By Julian H. Betancourt
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MAY THE FRIES BE WITH YOU
BURGER KING'S SUPER-D TOYS COLLECTION AND... MORE
 
For many years the Burger King Franchise Corporation and the Star Wars name have gone hand in hand offering enjoyment, entertainment and why not, heavily doses of saturated fats to little and big kids alike every time the occasion has called for it. It is well known Burger King helped usher in the Star Wars phenomenon when the first Star Wars movie was released.
 
In 2005 Burger Kings throughout the Galaxy took on the Star Wars decoration, the promotion and the emotion of eating a fatty burger wrapped in galactic paraphernalia. For many, a Whopper with a Star Wars toy became more than a dream come true for others the toy was the precious reward after an unwanted food session of heavily packed calories. 
 
For six full weeks and as part of its everyday decor a great variety of promotional items covered the walls, counter tops, and roof tops of many of the chain's fast food restaurants. TV and radio commercials, print ads that began running in People and Entertainment Weekly magazines and a mini Web site rounded up the King's advertisement campaign, letting everyone know Star Wars was in the house. 
 
Obviously for me, I couldn't miss on an event of such magnitude. I embarked myself (as thousands of other fans did) in the dangerous mission of getting as many items from the campaign as it was possibly human. I became mentally prepared to get a hold of the exclusive PVC toys made by some underpaid Chinese worker, even if I had to deal with a greasy chunk of burger getting stuck down my wind pipe. Fortunately enough, I was able to purchase all the items I wanted without ever having to buy a meal and thus avoiding the extra 40 lbs.. Whew!

Now that the months have passed, all the toys have been entrapped and memories start to fade, this Guide will take us way, way back to the early days of bell bottoms, burgers and Star Wars premiums. Most important, it will be a constant reminder of the incredible Burger King 2005 Revenge of the Sith Campaign, not only at a national level but internationally as well, offering the most complete in depth look you can find of this promotion.

HISTORY TIME:
BURGER KING'S STAR WARS PROMOTIONS

It is only fair to pay justice to the many years Burger King and the Star Wars name have been associated by taking a nostalgic short trip back in time, to the beginning of a long kept relationship and see where it all started.

It is a relationship that dates as far back as the late 70s and early 80s. These are the years of the Original Trilogy and early promotions. Many of us still have vivid memories of frequent visits to our local Burger King searching for the latest Star Wars collectible when the restaurant chain offered several promotions...

A NEW HOPE: The year was 1978 and while Disco was hip and "Three's Company" was the #1 comedy show on television, Burger King was starting its first Star Wars promotion: a set of four Del Nichols' posters. The four week poster promotion (one poster per week) was free with the purchase of a soft drink and portrayed heroes and villains from A New Hope. Of interest to some was the peculiar depiction of Han Solo which appeared extremely smaller than his buddy Chewie. This promotion was short lived and gave way to a second offering: Four collectible glass tumblers.

Just like the previous poster offer and for the price of buying a soft drink, the glasses were made available at one different glass per week and the entire campaign lasted just four weeks. These were real glass tumblers and their graphics mimicked those on the posters. Many collectors that missed the chance on a glass or two were asked to go back when the promotion was over and see if there was any left over stock available. It is worth noting that the posters and glasses weren't actually available until a year after the release of A New Hope. But their next promotion would be right on time...

EMPIRE: When The Empire Strikes Back was released, Burger King started things up with a promotional campaign in the summer 1980, similar to its previous one. A new set of 4 glasses with stunning images of Empire depicted the characters of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Lando and the Droids. Although this was a four week promotion and only one glass was offered each week, this time around the Chain made extra glasses available in the fifth week. There was also a set of three posters drawn by artist Boris Vallejo depicting Vader and the Carbonite chamber, Han and Taun Taun and Luke in Dagobah with Yoda.

In January of 1981 and still as an appendix to the success of the summer's sequel, Burger King came up with a set of 48 stickers named The Empire Strikes Back "Super Scene Collection." During each week in January, a different set of 12 stickers was made available with the purchase of a Coke. The sets of stickers could then be arranged on a unique booklet recreating some of the film's scenes. But BKs Empire campaign did not end there ...

In June, amazingly a full year after the film's release, a third promotion under the name of "Everybody Wins Game" was introduced. Now customers had the chance to win prices dealing from flying disks to handheld games and even a complete Atari Game System via prize yielded scratch-off game cards. The scratch-off cards also offered the chance to win a set of 36 Star Wars and ESB trading cards. However, you had to be at most 12 years old or younger to play and the set could only be assembled three at a time.
 
RETURN OF THE JEDI: Contrary to today's promotion standards which usually precede a film, Burger King offered another new set of four collectible glasses. The first glass was available on May 27 1983, only two days after RETURN's release. Following on the footsteps of earlier promotions, the glasses portrayed fantastic graphics relating to the film but this time rather than characters, the glasses sported images of an Ewok Village, the Emperor's Throne Room, Jabba's Court and the Sarlacc Pit.
 
Although this set of tumblers was made out of glass and sold like so everywhere, there was a State with a different agenda. In Massachusetts the collectible glasses were sold in hard plastic only and this was due to the fact their state law prohibited restaurant chains to sale glass tumblers. Therefore a small number of hard plastic glasses were produced, making it very hard to put together one complete set.
 
 
BURGER KING'S REVENGE OF THE SITH PROMOTION

Originally scheduled to start on May 16, 2005 the promotion was launched 5 days before than previously expected. Since stores had received all promotional materials and merchandise earlier than expected, Corporate sent a memo to everyone announcing the entire promotion was going to be bumped up. Thus on Wednesday, May 11th Burger King paid homage once again to a Star Wars film, igniting their "Whopping" sabers for the Revenge of the Sith campaign and the Star Wars universe of unforgettable characters. The night before, May 10th, advertising kicked in during TV's American Idol with a 15 second spot. Subsequently, 10 more ads were produced promoting the campaign and ran on broadcast and cable networks for the next six weeks.

After a 22 year hiatus, undoubtedly the chain pleased many Star fans and collectors, with such an extensive assortment of premiums available that it became one of their biggest Star Wars movie campaigns ever, immersing old and new fans straight into a Galaxy far away.
 
 
THE SOUR SIDE OF THINGS:
CRITICS AND THE BK PROMOTION

However, as reported by news channels on May 24 2005, just four short days after the release of REVENGE in theaters and its record-shattering $158 million in ticket sales, The Dove Foundation, an entertainment watchdog group who encourages and promotes wholesome family entertainment sent an overnight letter to Burger King where they urged the promotion be stopped. They claimed to have conducted a national phone survey of 889 adults and said 83% felt the promotion was not appropriate for kids.
 
The chairman of the group claimed -"The film is not appropriate for the meals' target market of children ages 4 to 9" and continued -"Revenge of the Sith is a rated PG-13 film and it is not appropriate for Burger King to help market the film to younger children." Another critic said that -"Filmmaker George Lucas is as much to blame as Burger King for the inappropriate promotion effort." And finally a Harvard psychologist and author of several books claimed that -"It's irresponsible of George Lucas to OK the marketing around this PG-13 movie to young children"
 
Thirteen years before the same group got McDonald's to apologize for "confusion" from its promotion of the movie Batman Returns, which was also rated PG-13, with its Happy Meals.

Charges were refuted by Burger King speakers that clearly stated the promotion was not specific to the REVENGE movie but to the whole series of films, with just four of the 31 Kids Meal toys specific to Ep III. The toys celebrated not just one film but the entire Star Wars' saga and the reception by their customers had been overwhelmingly positive.
 
Reality check was a no brainer.  These were just toys. Kids asked their parents to take them to BK because they wanted to have the toys. Parents spent money on the BK Kids Meal instead of McDonald's because the kids liked the cool toys and adults wanted them as well. Nothing more! BK was simply endorsing the idea of making money from selling food. They were not endorsing taking a toddler to see Anakin wipe out a bunch of Jedi.
 
At the end, Burger King did not back down and the sale of the toys continued without further, unnecessary, uncalled for criticism.
 
BURGER KING'S R.O.T.S. PROMOTION:
THE "CHOOSE YOUR DESTINY" GAME
 
The "Everybody Wins" game from 1981 was brought back with an updated twist and was called the "Choose Your Destiny" game. The name was taken from the movie situation where Anakin makes his destiny-changing choice to become Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith.
 
The game offered 49 different pieces to scratch off, having each one the potential to be a winner. Game pieces were available on specially marked cups and French fries containers and in select print publications. To play, consumers had to peel off the game piece cover and rub off one Death Star Spot. If the game piece was a winner, a prize description appeared below.

More than 152 million game pieces were made available as part of the promotion; more than 129 million game pieces had a prize. The sweepstakes ran until June 13 and If choosing correctly, here is a list of some top prizes one could had won:
 
TOP PRIZES:
  • $1,000,000 (Payable over 20 years without interest)
  • $100,000 SONY electronics shopping spree
  • $50,000 college savings fund
  • $50,000 stock portfolio
  • SUV Lincoln Navigator
  • Beach vacation for 4
LESSER PRIZES:
  • Sony 50" Plasma WEGA TV
  • Sony home theater system
  • Lego ARC-170 Starfighter
  • Lego Star Wars The Video Game
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith video game (PS2 or XBOX)
  • $300 phone package (Cingular customers only)
  • $300 in gift cards (Cingular customers only)
  • Different food prizes
The "Choose Your Destiny" game was available as well in the UK, Spain, and Germany having unique prizes for each region. This marked the first time a Burger King game introduced in the United States was offered internationally.