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Verizon revs up Star Wars fan theory frenzy on Twitter

Verizon Wireless is charging up excitement for the newest Star Wars film installment by encouraging Twitter users to visit a mobile-optimized microsite where they can create fan theories and post them to social media for a chance to win movie tickets.

As anticipation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens reaches a fever pitch ahead of its release next week, Verizon is taking to social media to offer mobile users a chance to win tickets to see the film free of charge. The telecommunications brand is promoting its #TheoryWars hashtag on Twitter to entice its customers to hit the ?play now? button, which will bring them to a separate site designed for customizing fan theories.

?We are fans of Star Wars so we channeled our excitement in a way that reflected that enthusiasm,? said a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless. ?We decided to use social media as it gave us a natural way to be part of the conversation about the movie and reward fans with what they really want: tickets to see the movie.

?Whenever we use social media, it?s our goal to fuel the conversation instead of inflict it,? she said. ?Consumers are pretty savvy and know blatant marketing when they see it.?

Dialing up excitement
Verizon Wireless is promoting the #TheoryWars hashtag on Twitter to ensure that all users have a chance to participate in the game if they desire. The Tweet offers a ?play now? button alongside text saying ?There are thousands of #TheForceAwakens theories. Pick one w/ #TheoryWars for a chance to win special tix.?

Fans of the space opera series are then brought to a mobile-optimized microsite hosted by Verizon. Users may scroll through several Star Wars character and political organization names to select the one they would like their personal theory to include.

After a subject is chosen, individuals may customize the theory by selecting one of several possible outcomes. For example, consumers who want to guess Han Solo?s fate may posit that he ?blows up another Death Star,? ?has been a Jedi this whole time and didn?t know it? or ?is surprised to see Boba Fett survived the sarlacc pit? among other options.

Fans may also choose to showcase their theories surrounding new character Rey, Wookiee warrior Chewbacca or droid C-3PO.

After users have chosen their complete theory, Verizon will aggregate it into a short sentence, which may be posted on Facebook or Twitter with the click of a button.

The post will have #TheoryWars superimposed at the top, with Verizon?s logo emblazoned at the bottom, providing a subtle branding opportunity for the company.

 Once consumers have posted their theory, they may click the ?Enter for a chance to win tickets? button at the bottom of the microsite?s page.

The sweepstakes portion of the campaign is currently open to Verizon customers only. Individuals interested in winning movie tickets must provide their Verizon phone number to receive an entry.

Encouraging cultural phenomena
While plenty of major brands are hoping to ride Star Wars? coattails by posting content related to the film or its impending release, Verizon Wireless? campaign will likely resonate the best with actual fans.

?As people are aware, Star Wars has multiple brand partnerships which include a diverse universe of product placements, including non-diary creamer and mac and cheese,? Verizon?s spokeswoman said. ?Rather than focus on that approach, we created Theory Wars to entertain and organically engage fans ? as well as reward them for their interaction.

?While there are many ways to prove the Better Network ? one way is to fuel fan?s passions in a way that shows the power of their smartphones and laptops.?

The brand is fueling creativity among social media users, and encouraging them to enter in conversations with each other about hotly-contested theories. The secrecy cloaking the new Star Wars film has generated tons of buzz among moviegoers, who are attempting to figure out new characters? identities as well as important plot points before the film arrives in theaters on December 18.

Verizon has been engaging in a stronger push for mobile campaigns this year, undoubtedly due to recent acquisitions.

After years of jockeying for a bigger role in mobile advertising, Verizon threw serious money behind its aspirations, spending $4.4 billion deal for AOL several months ago and, this past September, another $250 million to boost the digital platform?s mobile play by buying Millennial Media (see story).

?We chose to use the microsite as it allows us to offer a more seamless engagement so that people can go from Twitter and Facebook directly into the experience,? Verizon?s spokeswoman said. ?Fans can have fun reading through the theories, selecting their favorite, and then sharing it in their social feed. ?

?This works really well as fans are then directed back to the site where they can look at other theories as well as enter to win special tickets for opening weekend.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Marketer, New York