Promoting The Holiday Special: Stay On Target!

The first time the Holiday Special dropped it was during the era when “new media” was still the television set and the Internet was a long way off. Back then the market audience was considerably more limited than it is today, and promotional material was largely limited to US newspapers and magazines.

Glomming onto the momentum that Star Wars was still enjoying, the process of promoting the special began in February 1978 when Starlog (issue 19) printed a four-page spread – under the banner of a cantina reunion – on the special. The article had still images that were never produced elsewhere, writes Lucasfilm’s own Pete Vilmur in his seminal A Look at the Worst Moment in Star Wars History and Its Collectibles article, indicating that work on the show had begun at least nine months before the Holiday Special aired on November 17, 1978.

Still busy with the international release schedule of Star Wars, and prepping to begin pre-production on its sequel, Charley Lippincott and his team wasn’t in a huge rush to promote the show – and when they eventually released a presskit it was half-hearted and poorly distributed (making it one of the most sought after Star Wars collectibles).

For the most part, it was up to CBS and its local affiliates to spruik the biggest event of the 1978 holiday season (meaning Thanksgiving to non-US readers) and from the start of November, a number of print ads and a couple of TV spots appeared to make fans aware of what was coming.

Forewarned is forearmed they say, but no amount of forewarning could brace the proto-fan base for the schlock they had to endure. If anything good came out of it, it was Lucasfilm’s realization that they had to take firmer control of their intellectual property, evokes Craig Miller in his Star Wars Memories: My Time In The (Death Star) Trenches autobiography.

In those early days coordinating the flow of information was comparably rudimentary, constrained and time-consuming than it is today, and now the promotional juggernaut that is the Internet is the main – and far more efficient – way of spreading the word, with the original LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special announcement only coming out in August.

However, a number of product releases had foreshadowed the initial press release and the collecting community had already been tipped off. Unlike this month’s LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special; which already has elements in the latest LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar, a small selection of plush toys, and a sticker book available to buy, spin-off merchandise for the original Holiday Special was extremely limited.

With the first Star Wars action figures only just being sent to those who bought into the Early Bird raincheck offer the previous year, merchandising the Holiday Special was far from the front of Lucasfilm’s mind when their licensing department was presented with a few product proposals – including a 7″ promotional record, a selection of pins, a children’s storybook and a number of action figures. Only a few of these were approved, and are now highly prized by the few Star Wars collectors who have a Holiday Special focus.

Nowadays it’s a different story, and the combined Lucasfilm/Disney/LEGO marketing machine is more than happy to promote the new Holiday Special, which has been declared a non-canon sequel to the 1978 version.

All this to say that the official trailer for LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special has just dropped!

Set after The Rise of Skywalker, Rey is on a mission to discover more about the Force and finds herself on a cross-timeline/trilogy/saga adventure that has her meeting Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other iconic heroes and villains from the Skywalker Saga movies. Will she make it back to Kashyyyk in time to take part in the Life Day festivities?

What are your expectations? Do you think it will be as cringeworthy as the original? Leave your comments below.

Entertainment Earth

1 Comment

  1. It combines cringe-worthy elements from the horrendous Holiday Special, standard over-commercialized Christmas fare, modern generic cartoon voice acting with stock voices, and the sub-par new trilogy to make the most obvious references to the original trilogy that everyone with cursory knowledge of Star Wars already knows by heart. “Han shoots first?” — wow good one. The Child is cute? — thanks for filling us in on that.

    None of this makes me want to watch it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.