Star Wars Baby Yoda takes over social media

The Disney Channel’s “The Mandalorian” TV series has captured the world’s imagination and created a…

Star Wars Baby Yoda takes over social media

The Disney Channel’s “The Mandalorian” TV series has captured the world’s imagination and created a social media storm of love for it’s surprise star, Baby Yoda, who says nothing but brings a massive dose of serious cute to the franchise. Now the toy versions are pouring out into the stores including an animatronic version that is going to be on every child’s list to Santa for Xmas 2020.

Big eyes, big head and powers that can move mountains. What’s not to like about Baby Yoda?

On social media from Twitter to Instagram, Reddit to Tik Tok, the cute character of Baby Yoda has created a storm of interest with videos, memes and millions of posts. It would be naive to think that Disney and the team behind the show were unaware this would happen. In fact you can be confident they knew that Baby Yoda, as a mascot, a plush toy, an animatronic, a vinyl figure and in countless other shapes and formats, was going to be a huge hit. After all, Disney is the home of making cute sell for over 100 years.

The actual show itself, while brilliant from all reports, has been overshadowed by it’s diminutive star to the extent they might as well have called it Star Wars Baby Yoda. Yet strangely, the grown up version of Yoda in the original movies, while popular enough for his wisdom and crazy force-powered fighting skills, was never such a worldwide hit across all ages and people.

So what are the key features that Disney got right to make everyone coo and sigh at the very sight of their character?

  1. Big Brown Eyes – I mean just look at them? Filled with innocence and wonder. Think the cat in Puss in Boots doing the ‘big eyes’ trick or the baby black dragon in “How to Train Your Dragon” with the huge kitten eyes, and you’ll understand the trick perfectly.
  2. Big Head, Tiny Body – now Yoda was never a tall chap but with Baby Yoda, they really nailed the ‘baby’ aspect with the large head, smooth skin and cute but massive fox-like ears.
  3. Small but Powerful – everyone loves it when a supposedly vulnerable character turns out to have special powers – in this case the legendary Star Wars “force” – that they use to save themselves and the other heroes. Especially when you are appealing to children, this is especially attractive and is a common theme in books and films from Harry Potter to Stranger Things; kids feel powerless and are attracted to characters they see sharing their plight who turn out to be special with awesome powers.
Animatronic Baby Yoda just released from Hasbro

So, what does this tell us about designing and marketing a great toy mascot? Well, first a note of caution – there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. If the audience and the message you want to convey is appropriate (i.e. children and making them feel empowered) then yes, 100% you should look at the cutest character and toy imaginable.

If however, you are marketing to a different group, say teenage boys, girls, adults or even the elderly, then you need to take a pause and think about what kind of message your mascot will convey to them to make it memorable and attractive. Characters such as the singing tenor with his mad moustache Gio Compario for Go Compare and the Churchill Insurance bulldog are clearly not aimed at children who would find insurance about as interesting as double maths.

Disney is the home of making cute sell for over 100 years.

In general, even if you are marketing to adults, you can always find a way to make most mascots appeal to all ages. You only have to look at the success of the meerkats to see how a memorable character can be expanded and become a phenomenon that appeals to children and adults.

Amazon is already awash with over 1,000 products available already (many not necessarily licensed officially perhaps?)

As for Baby Yoda, 2020 is going to be his year with Hasbro and Mattel ramping up production of toys and merchandise for Disney to ensure that, even if people have never seen the TV show, pretty soon everyone will be adopting a Yoda for themselves or their kids.

It may feel like Disney is shooting fish in a barrel here but, after all, it was Disney that invented the barrel in the first place and made the world want every item they pulled out of it.

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