Final Analysis: Forceful Marketing

Tying in to 'Star Wars' is obviously the clever approach.
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Since the premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in mid-December, social media sites have been awash in the kind of piggyback promotion that accompanies any pop-culture phenomenon.

The savvy marketer, knowing that a Star Wars connection confers instantaneous hotness and coolness, is on it like a baggy robe on a skinny Sith. Drawing inspiration from the latest installment in the Star Wars movie franchise — or any of the previous six, for that matter — is the kind of cutting-edge creativity you might otherwise see only in a Beacon Plumbing commercial.

We tried to survey advertising experts throughout the Puget Sound region to learn what they expected to see in the way of Star Wars ripoff, er, tribute marketing this year, but this column was being written the day before Christmas and none of them returned our calls. So the following is our best guess of the marketing tie-ins to Star Wars that might surface locally and abroad.

The Farce Awakens. Upon the successful restarting of Bertha, the excavation of a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct generates a spate of new comedies at theaters around Seattle.

The Bourse Awakens. The Paris securities exchange goes back to its old name after discovering that “Euronext,” which it has been using since 2000, sounds a lot like something a urologist might prescribe for people watching The CBS Evening News.

The Remorse Awakens. Feeling a little sheepish about the billions in tax breaks it has coerced out of Washington lawmakers over the years, the Boeing Company decides to give the state Legislature a previously owned 737 that it can use for parties, junkets and fact-finding missions to South Carolina.  

The Gorse Awakens. Enraged that scotch broom is far more prevalent in the Puget Sound region, a consortium of noxious-weed spreaders mounts an advertising campaign to make Ulex europaeus the official invasive plant of Washington state.

The Course Awakens. Slightly miffed at the negative publicity its greens received during the U.S. Open last summer, Chambers Bay announces it will immediately transition from a links-style venue into the world’s longest putt-putt golf attraction and alternative-energy installation, with a windmill on every hole.

The Norse Awakens. Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood harks back to its Scandinavian past by importing a surly Norwegian to roam the Ballard Farmers Market and hurl epithets at any hipster with a baby carriage that’s bigger than Rhode Island or a dog that’s smaller than Donald Trump’s mind.

The Outsource Awakens. Flummoxed by requirements that they boost their employees’ wages to at least $15 an hour, restaurateurs in Seattle decide to contract out their food-prep operations to kitchens in Shoreline, Tukwila and Bellevue — and deliver meals via Uber. 

The Porch Awakens. Amazon unveils a new technology allowing Amazon Prime subscribers to install secure docking portals at their front doors so Amazon delivery drones can couple and uncouple in relative privacy, away from the prying eyes of snoopy neighbors. 

John Levesque is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine.

The Remorse Awakens. Feeling a little sheepish about the billions in tax breaks it has coerced out of Washington lawmakers over the years, the Boeing Company decides to give the state Legislature a previously owned 737 that it can use for parties, junkets and fact-finding missions to South Carolina.  

The Gorse Awakens. Enraged that scotch broom is far more prevalent in the Puget Sound region, a consortium of noxious-weed spreaders mounts an advertising campaign to make Ulex europaeus the official invasive plant of Washington state.

The Course Awakens. Slightly miffed at the negative publicity its greens received during the U.S. Open last summer, Chambers Bay announces it will immediately transition from a links-style venue into the world’s longest putt-putt golf attraction and alternative-energy installation, with a windmill on every hole.

The Norse Awakens. Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood harks back to its Scandinavian past by importing a surly Norwegian to roam the Ballard Farmers Market and hurl epithets at any hipster with a baby carriage that’s bigger than Rhode Island or a dog that’s smaller than Donald Trump’s mind.

The Outsource Awakens. Flummoxed by requirements that they boost their employees’ wages to at least $15 an hour, restaurateurs in Seattle decide to contract out their food-prep operations to kitchens in Shoreline, Tukwila and Bellevue — and deliver meals via Uber. 

The Porch Awakens. Amazon unveils a new technology allowing Amazon Prime subscribers to install secure docking portals at their front doors so Amazon delivery drones can couple and uncouple in relative privacy, away from the prying eyes of snoopy neighbors. 

John Levesque is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine.

Final Analysis: The Sporting Life in 2017

Final Analysis: The Sporting Life in 2017

Three predictions for the coming year on a new arena, an old arena and the Mariners.
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As every first-year business student knows, a city’s economy is not considered “world class” until said city has erected at least four shrines to professional sports and these shrines remain empty and unused most days of the year. Seattle is knocking on the door of world classiness because it already has KeyArena, Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field up and running. Occasionally. Just one more monument to appease the great mass of athletic supporters and we’re there. Hallelujah!
 
It’s only a matter of time because Chris Hansen, the San Francisco rich guy who wants to build a new arena on First Avenue South and bring pro basketball and pro hockey to Seattle, is this close to getting his way. In October, Hansen revealed that he and his investors are now willing to pay the whole honkin’ bill for plopping a new arena into the SoDo neighborhood a block from Safeco Field. He still wants a piece of Occidental Way vacated and also expects some tax breaks from the city, but that’s how rich guys are. (See: Trump, Donald.) Besides, the people who believe we’re not world class until the NBA returns to Seattle are salivating over this deal because it’s the best deal we’re ever going to get
 
Of course, these same people said Hansen’s previous offer, which would have required that $200 million in public money be plowed into a new arena, was also the best deal we were ever going to get. 
 
Hansen’s decision to pay more for his arena places the sports economy clearly in the local spotlight this year. Heaven knows we could use more opportunities to pay $9 for a beer and see millionaire athletes selling Jaguars and BMWs on TV. It’s the kind of economic shot in the arm that only comes around whenever a sports league is in a coercive mood. 
 
And so, in the spirit of this January issue’s “looking ahead” theme, we offer three predictions relating to the regional economy as the Hansen arena intrigue continues to unfold.
 
Prediction 1: Hansen, who has already spent more than $120 million buying up property in the area of his proposed arena, will persuade the Port of Seattle, his arch nemesis in this melodrama, to fold up its tent and send all cargo-handling operations to Tacoma. That decision will pave the way for so many trendy bars and restaurants with names like Kale & Kumquat or Cobblestone & Wingtip that Hansen will be persuaded to create a private streetcar system to connect Pioneer Square with the burgeoning Stadium District. 
 
Prediction 2: The city-owned KeyArena, whose very future is clouded by the Hansen proposal, will announce plans to house up to 10,000 homeless persons every day. Even on days when the Seattle Storm and Seattle University basketball teams need the building, the city believes the Storm and the Redhawks could use the attendance boost, so it becomes a classic win-win.
 
Prediction 3: The Seattle Mariners, who still don’t like the arena proposal, will channel their hostility onto the field of play — and still not win the World Series. (This is called pattern-recognition analysis.) However, always mindful of improving the fan experience — because it’s not whether your team wins or loses, but whether you’re inclined not to press charges for being gouged by a vendor — the Mariners will introduce several new fan-friendly food items, plus mani/pedi stations in the pricey seats and roving loan officers to assist anyone trying to finance the purchase of hot dogs and sodas for a family of four. 
 
JOHN LEVESQUE is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at john.levesque@tigeroak.com.