How an Australian tech company won licensing rights around Star Wars

Creators of a levitating Death Star speaker talk about the strategy behind winning over one of the world's biggest brand owners

Death Star levitation speaker
Death Star levitation speaker


The original Death Star had a diameter of 140Km, was crewed by 1.7 million personnel, and had the ability to destroy a planet.

Sean Andrews’ version doesn’t pack quite that firepower, but it is still an impressive undertaking. Andrews and his band of rebels at the small Australian electronics startup have successfully taken on the Empire-sized Disney corporation and convinced it to license Plox’ version of the Death Star to taken on the entire planet.

Andrews and the team at Plox have reimagined the Death Star as a scale-model Bluetooth speaker that uses magnets to levitate above its base.

And their timing couldn’t be better, with the December cinema release of Rogue One – A Star Wars Story, and 2017 marking the 40th anniversary of the film that started it all.

Andrews says he first came up with the idea in early 2015 when he saw another version of a levitating speaker.

“We looked at it and said, ‘hey, wait a second, maybe we can make that into a Death Star’,” Andrews recalls.

That idea was sent to a designer, and Plox began building out its go-to-market strategy. That meant winning Disney’s approval. But like the mission that destroyed the original Death Star in the 1977 film, the approach would not be easy.

“We contacted a friend who is in the licensing space and had sold licensed products in with Disney,” Andrews says.

That put them in touch with Disney itself, but it took connections with another three people to find the one they needed to deal with. From there, things happened quickly.

“Rather than just pitching, we went and made one, and brought it in to them,” Andrews says. “By this point your nerves are there, and you just hope the product works when you get it in the room.

“But we had the product in hand, which really sold itself. So we kind of let it do the talking. And that was it.”

The company also developed a merchandising plan that covered everyone from small businesses to large footprint and online stores. Andrew says their efforts were helped by Plox’s heritage in creating and marketing consumer technology, such as portable charging devices, which it had succeeded in having ranged in Dick Smith, Harvey Norman, Big W and airport electronics retailers. The company had also been named as an honouree at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show awards for innovation in portable power.

Then six months later the company was pitching to Disney.

“In 2015 when we stated engaging them we really only hoped to get Australia and New Zealand as a starting point,” Andrews says. “And after month and month and months they said ‘hey, you guys seem to know that you are doing, let’s bring that global.”

The company has now taken its Death Star to Switzerland, Germany, the UK,and Benelux nations, and are planning on opening up Asia.

“We’re happy with the way it’s gone,” Andrews says. “We’ve definitely noticed the strengths of the Star Wars franchise. It is one of those unbelievable ones where everyone gets it, and you realise how strong Disney is as a global powerhouse and branding company.”

Andrews saysPlox will continue to develop its charger and accessories business, with a focus on a ‘junior’ product line, but the success of the Death Star hasdefinitely got the company considering other licencing deals.

Andrews is adamant that other brands should not feel trepidations when reaching out to behemoths like Disney.

“Just take the punt,” Andrews says. “If you’ve got a good idea and want to run with it, reach out. It doesn’t hurt these days to make a phone call or send an email.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:+google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

CMOs are talking the CX talk, but not yet walking the walk

Customer experience is eclipsing product as a competitive differentiator. CMOs are recognising this shift and talking the talk. But are they also walking the walk?

Will our manners go the same way as texting when robotic servants take over?

Much of the talk in the industry is focused on the limited amount of time that screens have left in our lives.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Social purpose: Oxygen for your brand health vitals

If trust is the new currency, then we’re in deep trouble. Here's why.

Carolyn Butler-Madden

Founder and CEO, Sunday Lunch

Welcome to AVANT LOANS, Do you need a genuine loan Online to secure your Bills? Starts a new business? Do you need a personal loan? or Bu...

Avant Loan

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 14 June 2018

Read more

The things who have mentioned are very convincing and will certainly work.

Lunna Walker

Xero evolves to fit a changing marketplace

Read more

Do you need a loan for Business? Debt? school loan? medical loan? Have you been denied of loans in the bank and other companies? then you...

larry

News Corp confirms CMO is out

Read more

The use of the virtual reality and the additional reality in marketing are only the first steps to the unlimited possibilities. When you ...

Viri VR

Treasury Wine Estates ramps up consumer engagement with augmented reality app portfolio

Read more

I have heel pain and need arch support for my tired feet. I first wore them around the house for an hour or two at a time, as suggested. ...

akshayv

Branded CEO: The power of the personal

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in