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How The Force Brought Nissan and Star Wars Together for “Rogue One”

Plus our thoughts on the new film

Plus our thoughts on the new film

Automotive tie-ins with sci-fi or fantasy movies can be hard, especially when the movie takes place in a galaxy far, far away where cars as we know them don’t exist. But when “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” was announced, Nissan saw an easy cross-promotion opportunity. The resulting partnership between Nissan and Lucasfilm has become the automaker’s largest and most integrated campaign to date.

Nissan invited us to the world premiere of the new Star Wars movie, the first of an anthology series that will tell stand-alone stories set in the Star Wars universe that aren’t directly tied to the main storyline. Following the premiere, we caught up with Nissan’s vice president of marketing communications and media Jeremy Tucker, the master mind behind the Star Wars-Nissan Rogue campaign. His experience as a marketing exec for Disney, which now owns Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise, likely helped the deal go more smoothly.

“In the spring [of 2015], they announced the name of the movie was going to be ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.’ Very quickly me and my former colleague Don Gross, who I used to work with at Disney, called each other. He called me and I called him and it was really one of those funny things where the two of us were thinking about the same thing at the same time. He knew [Nissan] had a Rogue, and I knew I was launching a model-year ’17 Rogue in the fall, which is about the same time the movie started to be promoted, and so it was just a match made in heaven and very easy for the two of us to start a conversation.”

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That conversation yielded a vast marketing campaign in the U.S. and Canada, which includes TV ads, a toy drive benefiting Toys for Tots, and a limited-edition Star Wars-themed Rogue crossover. Called the 2017 Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition, the special model is the first Star Wars-branded production vehicle ever and is limited to 5,000 copies in the U.S. (Canada gets 400 units). The Rogue One edition is based on the Rogue SV, and comes exclusively in white or black to evoke the colors of the stormtrooper and the new Death Trooper that’s introduced in the film. In addition, the crossover receives unique Star Wars badging (including giant plaque-like badges on the front doors), decals for the rebel alliance and galactic empire on the D-pillars, a Star Wars decal on the rear bumper, Star Wars door sill guards, and Star Wars floor mats. The big draw for collectors will be the numbered Death Trooper replica helmet that comes exclusively with the purchase of a Nissan Rogue Star Wars edition.

“We’re always looking for moments that connect the Nissan brand to other powerful brands and culturally relevant moments, and there’s nothing more culturally relevant than Star Wars,” Tucker said. “We’re always looking for ‘capital P’ partners, meaning partners who come in and we don’t just share a name and we don’t just share an investment, but we actually share a passion for creating something special for our customers that reinforces both of our brands, and I’ll tell you the Lucasfilm team and what we’ve done with ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and the launch of the 2017 Nissan Rogue has brought that to life in spades.”

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Should you see the movie? If you’re a diehard Star Wars-lover or even a casual fan, then yes. Absolutely. Less devoted moviegoers may get lost in the fast pace of the first half of the film, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for character development for the large cast of all-new characters. Being a stand-alone movie, “Rogue One” isn’t bound by the stylistic obligations of the main saga. In this editor’s humble opinion, director Gareth Edwards did a fine job creating a Star Wars movie without some of the things we’ve come to expect like the opening crawl, characteristic wipe transitions, or that classic John Williams score. This break with traditional Star Wars conventions may put off some, but others might find it liberating. Still others might not notice at all. But despite the differences in style between “Rogue One” and all the movies that came before it, the latter half of the film does a hell of a job channeling the spirit of the original trilogy. Fans of Episodes IV-VI will lose their minds with excitement and nostalgia by the end.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens everywhere Friday, December 16. The refreshed 2017 Nissan Rogue is available now at dealerships, where you’ll see plenty of Star Wars advertising. Check out some of those well-produced ads below.