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  • Writer's pictureKevin Lim

How a Star Wars movie with no Jedis, created the most iconic villain in movie history.

[Musings from a freelance copywriter‘s blog]

Note: Some spoilers ahead. Beware if you haven’t watched Rogue One yet! (Seriously though, go catch it before social media completely kills any surprise that’s left.)

With the mandatory spoiler disclaimer out of the way, here’s the bombshell no one expected after watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Darth Vader is cool again.

Like, really, really, I-want-you-to-be-my-adopted-father cool.

People in the theatre cheered. The internet exploded with excitement. Even critics who panned the movie are calling its conclusion (featuring Vader) the best part of the show.


Vader vs Kylo

Think about it. Kylo Ren (from “The Force Awakens”) froze a laser beam IN MID AIR.

Yup, he literally rewrote every physics textbook in existence with one demonstration of the force.


Everyone hates Kylo.

Darth Vader killed a couple of rebel troops. (Who are really just “good guy” versions of the utterly useless stormtroopers.)

Everyone loves Vader.

What gives?

The Art of Contrast

Rogue One is the perfect illustration of the saying, “Less is more”.

The 2 hour 13 minute movie spends an entire 2 hours without a single Jedi or lightsaber in sight.

They poked, teased and played with our emotions with hints of the force – even though “the force” in this movie was never actually seen, merely relegated to hopeful prayers and trinkets. Near the climax of Rogue One’s iconic battle, Donnie Yen looked almost as if he was on the verge of transforming into a Jedi and whipping out a badass Shaolin-style lightsaber.

Instead, he simply marched forward… to his death.

By the 2-hour mark, I had resigned myself to the fact that this Star Wars spinoff was deliberately distancing itself from its more renowned siblings by omitting the superheroes and villains that we’ve come to love (and despise) – the Jedi and Sith. And with that, their iconic lightsabers.

Then, it hits.

We’re on a rebel ship.

The room darkens. The music plays. The secondary characters (i.e. weak rebel troops) are in place.

A solitary beam of light comes on screen.

Darth Vader appears.

30 seconds and a few dead bodies later, the legendary villain Darth Vader (who was, until this moment, superceded in previous films by quicker, more agile and deadly Sith like Darth Maul, Count Dooku and a young Anakin Skywalker) was reborn.

The Dark Lord had reclaimed his throne as the most terrifying villain in the history of movies.

*And the audience goes wild*

Applying Contrast into Your Marketing

All this was accomplished, because the movie had the patience (and confidence) to keep you waiting. Rogue One showed us the bravado and fragility of the bravest humans in the Rebel Alliance. In the end though, no one could fend off a hail of laser blasts, or an army, on their own.

Then, Vader appears and does just that. The Sith lord deflects lasers with a flick of his wrist and has the entire crew of a capital ship running for their lives.

The contrast between the this one “super villain” and everyone else in the movie is stark. This, is what made gave Vader his incredible aura in the movie.

And this concept of contrast is a clever psychological play that you can use in your marketing strategies.

The power of contrast can be very powerful indeed.

Need some proof? Here are some real-world examples I’ve gathered from various sources:

Contrast Marketing (Example 1): Bath Tubs

Product: Premium bath tubs that cost over $15,000 each. (What?! You could almost buy a Star Destroyer for that price! Almost.)

Solution: The company’s salespeople managed to compare the value of their premium bath tubs to that of an additional room. (i.e. “Our bath tubs are so good, they’re like adding a room to your home.”) Once customers accepted this comparison, they contrasted the costs between getting a bath tub and building an entirely new room – and of course, the bath tub was the more affordable option, by far. Sales of the bath tubs soared by 500%!

Contrast Marketing (Example 2): Property

Product: High-end property

Solution: When a property agent brought prospects to see a $500,o00 apartment, they were dissuaded by the price, finding it too expensive. However, when the agent changed his strategy and brought his prospects to view a $600,000 apartment before viewing this similar-looking $500,000 one – prospects jumped on the “fantastic deal”. This was repeated with future deals and the strategy continued to work. By intelligently controlling the contrasting offers that prospects saw, one option invariably appeared much more appealing (than if no contrast had been used).

These are just 2 (of many) ways that you can leverage on the principle of contrasts to greatly boost your marketing and sales results.

Give it a shot and think about how you can apply this strategy to your business, career or even personal life.

May the force be with you.

Image credit: Gizmodo


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