Kohl’s and the Chewbacca Facebook Live video: where’s the line?

chewbacca video

If you’ve spent anytime on Facebook over the past few days it’s more than likely you’ll have stumbled across the video of a woman in the US trying on a Chewbacca mask.

Her infectious laughter has now made this Facebook Live’s most-ever watched recording with over 100m views, and counting.

Essentially an unboxing video, she just happens to mention at the beginning that she got it from department store Kohl’s, before sharing the fact that this mask is a birthday present to herself and not going to be for her kids.

Kohl’s jumped on that idea sending Candace Payne and her family several more masks so they could all enjoy wearing them, as well as a stack of further Star Wars merchandise and a $2,500 Kohl’s gift card. The nature of the response (planned with its social agency, Huge), as well as its speed, has won the retailer props around the country and across social media.

“We don’t want you to have to share your Chewbacca mask, so we ‘confinsctated’ masks for everybody,” the Kohl’s rep said in the video of the drop-off, in reference to her confusion in the initial clip about how to pronounce “confiscated”. That clip, called “The Happiest Chewbacca” has got 29m views too. The mask has also since flown off Kohl’s shelves around the country.

The question is, where’s the line with such brand integration? Kohl’s got lucky with this one, to be fair. Payne could have opened the item and never mentioned the retailer’s name. She could (likely) have even bought it from somewhere else. There’s no denying however that the store did a great job of quickly reacting in a positive way that benefitted the family further, thanking them for being loyal shoppers, rather than just taking to social media to post a basic response of their own.

The fact it had the wherewithal to do something about it when the opportunity presented itself should alone be celebrated. But dig a little deeper on social, and a few responses were of course a touch cynical – ranging from eye rolling at the fact Kohl’s did anything at all, to wishing to never have to work for an agency that did such uncreative campaigns, not to mention suggesting that the PR’ing of the initiative was what felt particularly forced.

While speed is probably what made this work – grabbing the moment and beating any competitors to it – others suggested that what it did left a nasty brand-feel to an otherwise very fun and joyful thing. Payne and her family seem pretty happy about it, but there’s a slight layer of awkwardness over so much gifting felt in the Kohl’s clip too.

In spite of that, there’s no denying that the Chewbacca story is everywhere for this particular moment in time, and the fact it’s with the Kohl’s name wholeheartedly attached to it means that team is no doubt patting itself neatly on the back. Wouldn’t you? We’d love to hear some of your thoughts as industry insiders on the matter, do share in the comments below…

chewbacca kohls