Last Friday the cast of Star Wars gathered online for a Twitter chat hosted on the official @StarWars account. Fans could ask questions of the cast and crew using “#TwitterAwakens” and select questions were answered by Daisy Riddley, Harrison Ford, John Boyega, Carrie Fischer, J.J. Abrams and others. It’s a common tactic for studios and other companies who want to reach out to fans as part of a big campaign, a qualification you could certainly apply to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In response to one question about his favorite scene in the new movie, Ford dropped a comment that has been interpreted as an “accident,” with Ford either making a simple mistake or revealing something the studio didn’t want revealed. Here’s why neither makes sense and shows a misunderstanding by the entertainment press of how these kind of Twitter chats are managed.
Now I’ll allow that everyone likely has a different process for managing Twitter chats. How the Disney/Lucasfilm/Star Wars team does it may be different from how we at Voce have done them for clients. But I would imagine there are some things that are common that make it hard for me to believe either of the proferred scenarios.
When we at Voce do one of these there are two big things we do to diminish, if not completely eliminate, the potential for flubs and embarrassing incidents:
- Talent or executives do not have direct access to the account. That way danger lies since the person in question may or may not have a great understanding of Twitter. The client team is usually the one doing the posting and we have some sort of communications channel – in our case we are both on the phone and on Slack – with the person or people who are answering questions.
- There are PR people on both channels as well. So while the social media team or even the talent themselves may say “Oh, that looks like a fun question to answer” PR is there to say, for whatever reason, that no, that’s not a great idea. They are also the ones ultimately saying the proposed response is acceptable and doesn’t share inappropriate (broadly defined) information.
Between the two of these items, variations on which I’m sure were in place for the #TwitterAwakens chat, the odds of Ford’s comments being a “mistake” are miniscule. Though yes, I will allow that someone let a typo (“Kilo Ren”) through, but that happens.
What’s more likely is that Ford gave an honest answer and whoever the chat’s minders were decided to let it pass. Considering the Herculean efforts that have been made to keep certain elements of the story hidden in advance, you *have* to assume there were layers of approval that all responses in the chat had to pass through. And somewhere along that line someone said that yeah, that’s fine.
Spoiler? Barely. That particular plot point may not have been specifically known before, though it could be easily implied by the fact that TV spots have shown Rey with Ren right behind her, his lightsaber at her neck.
Mistake? No. These kinds of efforts, particularly one about Star Wars, will have checks and balances in place to make sure mistakes don’t happen.
I don’t want to call out the entertainment press, though they certainly should be informing themselves on how social media content marketing programs are organized and managed. This is Star Wars and everyone is looking for sensationalistic angles. But there are perfectly reasonable explanations for things like this that don’t fit with those wild and conspiracy-minded narratives.