Building the Force: Enacting Fan Brand Community Through the Star Wars BB-8 Droid Builders Club

Building the Force: Enacting Fan Brand Community Through the Star Wars BB-8 Droid Builders Club

William F. Humphrey Jr. (Florida International University, USA), Debra A. Laverie (Texas Tech University, USA) and Alison B. Shields (Ithaca College, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3220-0.ch007
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Abstract

This chapter examines the Star Wars fan community who creates screen accurate BB-8 replicas is explored in depth. Builders undertake the creation of characters through emergent technology such as 3-D printing. The members work together to create these replica characters and immerse completely in the process of the character's formation. We studied online fan community forums and social media groups where participants engage with and support one another as they build full-sized Star Wars characters. Second, this chapter applies the BB-8 builder community to an established framework for brand community, which is extended to include the passionate and committed communities formed by fans around entertainment franchises. Brand (or franchise) characteristics are related to community characteristics, which are then in turn related to fan brand community. Finally, conclusions for the academy and practitioners are discussed based on the examination of this community in relation to the theoretical framework.
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Main Focus Of The Chapter

This chapter consists of two principal areas of focus. First, the Star Wars fan community focused on creating screen accurate BB-8 replicas is explored in depth. This discussion includes insights from the online fan community forums and social media groups where participants engage with and support one another as they build full-sized Star Wars character. Builders undertake the creation of the character through emergent technology such as 3-D printing. Members work together to create these character replicas and immerse themselves completely in the process of the character’s formation. This participation involves the commitment for many to purchase 3-D printers and learn how to use them to design and build the character for participation. This chapter also includes insights gathered from the annual official fan convention, Star Wars Celebration, where members meet in the real world and honor the franchise. The complexity of the tasks and the commitment required are described in detail. Second, this chapter applies the BB-8 builder community to an established framework for brand community (Humphrey Jr., Laverie, & Rinaldo, 2016), which is extended to include the passionate and committed communities formed by fans around entertainment franchises. Brand (or franchise) characteristics are related to community characteristics, which are, in turn, related to fan brand community. This type of self-organized community are arguably the most vocal and motivated ambassadors for an entertainment brand. Finally, conclusions for the academy and practitioners (namely franchise stewards) are provided based on the examination of this community in relation to the theoretical framework. The overall objective of these three chapter components is to apply this existing framework to a nascent fan brand community and provide a vibrant, real-world example of how franchise creators and stewards can coexist with fan communities that replicate screen accurate artifacts as part of a self-formed and self-regulated online and offline community.

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