Why Wall Street Doesn’t Know @#$% About Marketing.

Disney recently released a new prequel in the Star Wars franchise entitled Solo, about that Millenium Falcon-flying, Han Solo.

It, ahem, “underperformed” at the box office and looks like it may end up being a loser when all the fancy Hollywood accounting is said and done.

In this article, a Wall Street “analyst” said the reason for the failure wasn’t weakness in the franchise (defending his bullish rating on Disney, no doubt), but rather “poor marketing.”

And he wasn’t talking generally.  He got specific, implying that the movie would have done better if the Han Solo character appeared sooner in the trailer.

Look, he may be right.

But is a few seconds the reason why the film will finish in the red?


Don’t misunderstand . . . I’m a marketing guy who has built my business on finding unique ways of getting the message of my shows out into the market, from this to this.

But good marketing, even GREAT marketing, can’t make the difference between a failure and a success.  It only takes something that already works and makes it better.

Because what’s the most important “P” in the 4 Ps of Marketing?


The best marketing is in the creation of your product.

And it’s not even about having a GREAT product.

While we all want to create great things, we also all know that sometimes things that aren’t “great,” sell anyway.

Great product isn’t about quality . . . it’s about product that people want to see/use/consume.

And there’s a difference.

You have to create something that people want, then make it great . . . and then market the @#$% out of it.

So in this case, the failure of the film wasn’t the # of seconds it took for the character to appear in a trailer. Heck no.  Because we’re all smart enough to know that the #1 reason people buy tickets is word of mouth.  No one is showing a trailer when recommending the show to friends.

The reason this prequel didn’t work in my opinion?  It’s the product itself.  No one wants Han Solo without Harrison Ford.  And the movie just wasn’t good enough to make people want to see it and recommend it.  (And yeah, the title is an issue too – because if you’re not a Star Wars person – or even if you are – “Solo” can mean “single” and just take you a second to figure out that they’re trying to make you think of a character.)

The takeaway for us?

First, Wall Street should stick to analyzing algorithms and p/e ratios.

Second, for commercial success, you need to create something that people want to see, both in the idea and the execution.  Think about the audience first, and your desires second.

Of course, like Hamilton and the iPhone, the biggest successes occur when you create something an audience wants, without them even knowing they want it.

  • John Ordover says:

    Also in marketing. While I agree that it’s ludicrous to blame the failure of the trailer on Han not appearing earlier in the trailer, a bad trailer can sink a movie and a good one save it: Suicide Squad is a mediocre movie that did really well because the two trailers, one to Bohemian Rhapsody and one to Ballroom Blitz were amazing and conveyed a story and tone.

    From what I understand, Solo is basically a heist movie. But you sure as heck couldn’t tell that from the trailers, which gave no sense of what the story would be about, what the tone would be, and where the big reveal was “oh, Look, Woody Harrelson is in this movie!”

    A good trailer might not have saved Solo, but it sure would have helped. If you had been in the theaters seeing other movies and saw what I saw, a kind of dumbfounded look on everyone’s face followed by a shrug, you’d have seen the problem in action.

  • Michael Arcaro says:

    I agree with you 100% here, the foundation of any strong marketing strategy stands as a superior product which consumers are willing to purchase on its own merits – and without Harrison Ford in the role, that simply was not there. However, one of the really prominent reasons that I’ve seen for “Solo’s” tanking revolves around another “P” – promotion. More specifically, the public relations for both the film and the franchise as a whole has disintegrated about as far as humanely possible since the release of “The Last Jedi”. To put it simply, the fact that Kennedy and her subordinates in Lucasfilm prominently conflate those who have legitimate critiques of that film with those whom dislike it for reasons of bigotry, and then actively push this conflation all over social media has decimated the strongest elements of the fanbase who would otherwise go above and beyond to consume everything this brand produces. While pruning your consumer-base of those who are actively rallying around hate is one thing, to say that everyone who can raise any issue with your work belongs to that camp will destroy any brand, for any product, in any industry.

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