Today (Dec. 18) is the official release date for the long-awaited next installment in the Star Wars saga – The Force Awakens. Disney and the Star Wars group have already been been engaged in an over one-year long cause marketing campaign that has been out of this world. For example, in mid-2014, the “Force for Change” campaign kicked off with a collaboration with UNICEF with a sweepstakes to win a once-in-a-lifetime walk-on role in the film, which raised over $4.2 million. In early 2015, programs were created to support UNICEF Kid Power such as an “Art Awakens” campaign to auction off Star Wars-themed works of art by contemporary artists. In late 2015, a new Force for Change-themed sweepstakes in support of 15 causes across the globe was announced with over $2 million raised. Throughout the campaign, different “Force for Change” merchandise has been sold with proceeds going to charity; these include: t-shirts, a collectible Hot Wheels hot rod car, and a power band. Also, specially-made items were auctioned off, such as an outfit made by famous designers that pays homage to the characters in the movie, original movie-inspired art pieces, and a gold and diamond BB-8 collectible. Full details are available at: http://forceforchange.starwars.com/

Star Wars – The Force Awakens has already broken pre-opening ticket sales and is expected to make over $1 billion. The specific impact of its cause marketing efforts has yet to be quantified, but it is clear that cause marketing helps trigger sales while at the same time helping people throughout the globe. Good for you Disney and Star Wars!