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Disney launching a Star Wars-themed AR "treasure hunt" next week
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is hitting cinemas this December. Ahead of its release in theaters, Disney and Lucasfilm are holding a global event to celebrate the launch of its merchandise next week.
The event is known as Force Friday II (it follows the original Force Friday event that Disney rolled out prior to the release of The Force Awakens in 2015), and will launch on September 1; appearing alongside will be a global AR experience known as “Find the Force.”
Find the Force is set to be a sort of treasure hunt which will take place in 20,000 retail locations across 30 countries (we don’t yet know which). By using the official Star Wars app to scan the “Find the Force” logos which will appear in stores, fans will be able to activate a “unique AR experience,” featuring old and new Star Wars characters.
These AR characters will be visible in the real-world through your smartphone display, so you can take photos and videos, and share the experience on your social channels.
“Force Friday II is a major milestone in the countdown to Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Star Wars has always championed new technology, and we are excited that augmented reality will allow fans to experience the universe in a whole new way,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, possibly while sitting atop her piles of money.
The treasure hunt will be ongoing from September 1 to 3, and new characters will appear each day at the participating locations (a total of 15 characters will be available at the stores during the three days).
This is a smart marketing effort on a number of fronts. It capitalizes on the AR trend (which exploded with Pokemon Go last year), it could keep consumers returning to retail stores for three days with Star Wars in mind (potentially leading to more Star Wars merchandise sales), and it advocated sharing on social media.
But it’s hollow. It’s being branded as a “treasure hunt,” aiming to “unite fans around the world in the battle against the dark side” — I’m not sure that’s actually what’s going on, though. It looks like you can scan a poster, collect a “Data Chip” which has a character bio on it and… that’s it? That’s the treasure?
Maybe there’s something more to it that hasn’t been outlined, but if not, it’s an embarrassingly transparent marketing ploy and a shallow way to use AR. When a person can love Star Wars, phones and toys and think this sounds boring then something has gone wrong, somewhere.
That’s my take on the Find the Force event, what’s yours? Let me know in the comments.