Darth Vader Pepsi Takes Marketing to the Dark Side
Lest you still long for the good old days when Star Wars wasn't owned by Disney, we present one of the last legacies of Lucasfilm: a partnership with Pepsi in Japan that yielded the world's first official Darth Vader cola.
The Vader version of "energy cola" — which adds royal jelly extract, ginseng and guarana extract to the familiar sugarwater and caffeine concoction — hit Japanese convenience stores in late October, but is only now starting to filter into the U.S. Tagline: "Give yourself to the Dark Side."
Darth Vader and Pepsi have something of a history. The Sith Lord was used in a promotional campaign for the Cola back in 1997, to coincide with George Lucas' controversial Special Edition of Star Wars Episode IV:
Pepsi also released a series of 24 Star Wars-themed cans to coincide with the Phantom Menace prequel in 1999. Each featured a different character from Episode I, including the not-yet-Darth Anakin Skywalker. The Japanese beverage is the first time a character from the series has been featured in the name of the drink itself.
Is this a foreshadowing of the kind of sellout marketing deals Disney will do, now it owns Lucasfilm? Somehow, we doubt it. Disney's number one concern is to look like a good steward of the Star Wars brand. The Mouse House doesn't exactly need the money, but it does need goodwill — and it needs geeks to turn out in force for the as-yet-untitled Episode VII in 2015.
Lucasfilm, by contrast, was a marketing machine. Lucas was dreaming of the Star Wars tie-in possibilities as early as 1976, when he was still filming the original movie. (His first product idea, oddly enough, was also drinks-based: a Chewbacca tankard.) Indeed, we're surprised that Darth Vader cola took this long to appear, and that it is currently limited to Japan.
Would you buy this beverage if it went on sale in the U.S.? Let us know in the comments.