Business goes with the flow
Da. Da. Da. da-da-da, da-da-da.
If you’re not humming the “Imperial March,” also known as Darth Vader’s Theme, you’re not among the millions of Star Wars fans holding their collective breath for the theater release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
But you probably have at least one person on your shopping list with one foot “in a galaxy far, far away.”
A Reno company is taking the popularity of Star Wars to the bank with an unusual product for fans to add to their collections.
Oxygenics, which makes oxygen-empowered, WaterSense-certified, shower heads, recently began manufacturing products shaped like Darth Vader and R2-D2.
“It’s had a lot of success with Star Wars bloggers,” said Stephanie Rosol, advertising and brand development with Oxygenics, which moved to Reno five years ago from Modesto, Calif., where it was founded in 1981.
Time magazine and Huffington Post have also mentioned the shower heads and they’ve been featured on Star Wars gift lists in various publications and blogs.
“It’s great timing with the new movie coming out Dec 18 and Christmas a week later,“ Rosol said.
It’s not Oxygenics’ first foray into popular characters turned into shower heads.
“We actually produce shower heads for Mickey and Minnie Mouse, so we had a licensing agreement with Disney,” Rosol said.
Scott Anderson, Oxygenics’ product development manager, said they approached Disney a couple years ago about licensing The Mouse.
“They were really excited,” he said of Disney’s reaction to adding something different to their lineup of character products.
The process of acquiring a licensing agreement “takes a little bit of time,” Anderson said. “But because (the shower head product) was new and hadn’t been done before, the level of excitement (at Disney) was really high.”
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse shower heads hit the market about a year ago.
“From there it was a natural progression,” to Star Wars, Anderson said.
Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, including the Star Wars franchise, in 2012, The Force was with Oxygenics when they approached Disney about adding a Star Wars line up.
For both sets of products, Disney worked with Oxygenics to design and develop the shower heads.
The Darth Vader and R2-D2 shower heads were released about a month ago and can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as online.
Additional collaboration between Oxygenics and Disney may be ahead.
“We’re definitely working with Disney and getting new information as it comes out,” Anderson said, while evading specifics as deftly as Han Solo pilots the Millennium Falcon past Imperial cruisers.
In the meantime, the popularity of the Star Wars shower heads has exceeded expectations.
“We thought there’d been some excitement but it really took off,” Anderson said. “It’s a good mixture. With young kids, it’s something special for their bathrooms. (For adult collectors) it’s something unique and new to add to their collections.”
Star Wars fans have a lot to be excited about this year.
Or, as R2-D2 might say, “Doot a-brie weet! Squeee!”
“I think, ultimately, it was a great awareness for these restaurants and it kind of gave them a little boost for the week,” says Cheree Boteler, event organizer.