Star Wars Taps "Pokemon Go" Tech for The Last Jedi Marketing Campaign

Remember Pokemon Go? That was the smart phone game that had millennials running about in real physical places trying to capture Pokemon characters that only they could see. It was all the rage for several months and it utilized a technology called “augmented reality” whereby smartphone users see an image of something while looking through their phone’s camera as if that image was actually there.

In the case of Pokemon Go, those images were characters in a game. Snapchat has their version of an AR superstar in the form of the Snapchat Dancing Hot Dog, which has taken off and become a social media meme, shared and liked by millions daily.

Now Disney, in a stroke of marketing genius, is attempting to harness that technology as they roll out the marketing campaign for the newest Star Wars film “The Last Jedi,” to occur on September 1.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is still a few months away from hitting theaters, but BB-8-happy fans are about to get a glimpse at a new character as a part of a three-day marketing rollout of toys and products inspired by the film.

Walt Disney said Thursday that the global event, dubbed Force Friday II, will feature an augmented reality treasure hunt called Find the Force. Using the Star Wars app in the 20,000 participating locations in 30 countries, fans can snap photos of the Find the Force symbol to find old favorites, like Admiral Ackbar, and discover a new character from “The Last Jedi” too.

Augmented reality, which superimposes interactive images onto a person’s real-world surroundings using their smartphone or other device, became a sensation with the hit video game “Pokemon Go.”

“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 Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement.

Star Wars has, since the debut of the first films in the 70s, always been ahead of the marketing curve, creating a separate, lucrative market just for the toys and action figures that accompanied the movie. Their decision to use an already popular emerging technology is on par with their tendency to embrace the cutting edge, both in filmmaking and marketing. Additionally, their choice of retail partners in the campaign — Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Inc, Best Buy Co Inc and Apple Inc — as well as some web only marketplaces, prove they know where to find their audience.

“Star Wars,” one of Disney’s most important franchises, was the U.S. toy industry’s top-selling property for 2015 and 2016, with $1.5 billion in sales over the two years, according to research firm NPD. “The Last Jedi,” the eighth movie in the “Star Wars” film saga, arrives in theaters in December.

It’s worth downloading the app just to get a photo with Darth Vader, right?