Each year, the fourth of May provides an opportunity for creatives at agencies across the world to come up with the best Star Wars puns and shareable images they can. The unofficial Star Wars Day generates buzz and creates a rare opportunity to connect with fans of the series and the emerging “geeks are cool” crowd.

Even here in Ottawa, the carillon on Parliament Hill rang out a 15-minute concert themed around space, including a rendition of the Imperial March. (By the way, this would end up in the “fail” category – as the government, playing the music of Darth Vader’s squad may not be the best idea.)

Let’s look back at how some of the world’s biggest brands took advantage of the annual celebration, while celebrating the winners and mocking the losers.

Greenpeace UK – Winner

If we’re going to take the step of rephrasing “force” to “fourth,” why can’t we take it one step further? That was the attitude Greenpeace took, asking followers to use the force to protect the earth’s forests.

The National Ballet of Canada – Loser

Apparently there’s something called a fourth position in ballet. I assume that’s what the ballerina in the photo below is doing. What a great set-up for a fun shareable that could resonate with dancers across Canada! Instead, they put out this sloppy, unbranded thing, taken in a waiting room and threw some inconsistent text that gets cut off. For “Canada’s premier dance company”, this does not have the marks of professionalism or an organization rooted in culture.

Subway – Winner

Full disclosure, Subway has been one of my least favourite advertisers for the past couple of years. I have no idea what that monkey mascot has to do with the brand, and it seems they have decided against promoting their healthy reputation (despite how disputed that claim may be). However, re-creating Yoda out of the popular veggies Subway offers is pretty genius.

Pillsbury – Loser

Oh look, it’s a bun pun. Because Princess Leia had the infamous double bun haircut, and Pillsbury makes cinnamon buns. One of the more uninspired efforts we saw. They were only outdone by Cinnabon.

Nissan – Winner

Nissan was able to rack up nearly 1,000 retweets and 2,000 engagements with this tweet, proving that creating cool-looking, Star Wars inspired futuristic car designs and mixing them with a simple, clever line of text is all fans are really looking for.

K-Mart – Loser

This one is a joke right? “I know.”

OnePlus – Winner

Clean, crisp, keeping to the theme. This is a strong effort from a brand still trying to find its legs. There really isn’t that much to this post, yet it stands out as one of the better ones thanks to the strong design elements and the clever use of an important Star Wars line in a context that actually makes sense.

Penguin Books Canada – Loser

A stormtrooper on top of a stack of books? Okay, I guess – I mean they are a publisher. Wait, what’s that? Not a single one of them is sci-fi or space related? A mistimed approach to try to promote the “Classics” series of the massive book publisher that begs the question, why do anything at all?

Hootsuite – Winner

Why put out just one piece of content? That was the message behind Hootsuite’s Star Wars Day campaign, as they continued to re-create their owly mascot as a number of different famous characters from a galaxy far far away. All day, Hootsuite was pushing out content and asking the question, “What if Star Wars had Twitter”, racking up engagements along the way.

Tim Horton’s – Loser

The coffee giant has long been one of the most reflexive, agile and creative brands in Canada. They created the Priestley within a day after a gag on How I Met Your Mother and have become experts on feel-good, real-life stories like #TimsNextDoor and crocheting an entire town. So this rather lackluster approach comes as a let-down from a brand that we expect much more from.

Cadbury – Winner

Two major chocolate brands decided to play off Darth Vader’s shocking confession, “Luke, I am your father.” Cadbury made a crisp, highly branded piece of content that playfully ripped on the connection between their Dairy Milk bar and milk itself.

Kit Kat – Loser

This one really speaks for itself doesn’t it? “Who’s your daddy?” Come on…

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Is a great use of #StarWarsDay missing from the list? Did I miss an abomination of the hashtag? If so, please leave your comments below!

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