It can be hard to imagine a time when an onslaught of fast food-related toys seemingly accompanied the release of nearly every major animated film. Yet according to Large open dishes, fast food restaurants didn’t cross-promote movies until 1977, the year Burger King broke history by promoting “Star Wars.” The marketing strategy, the first of its kind, included “Star Wars” posters, stickers and drinking glasses (via Fast food reference).
In addition to Burger King and “Star Wars,” drinking glasses were also cross-promoted with Coca-Cola. According to Flashbackthe channel not only introduced them in 1977 for the release of the first film, but also continued promotion in 1980 and 1983 to coincide with the releases of the films “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” (via IMDb). Burger King introduced a new “Star Wars” drink every week to encourage customers to come back to pick up all four. The burger giant’s upbeat ad shows glasses featuring characters such as Chewbacca and dark Vador and explains that they come with the purchase of a drink (via Youtube).
As for the Golden Arches, McDonald’s landed its own standout cross-promotion in 1979 when the chain launched its “Star Trek” meal, according to Wide Open Eats. But by then, Burger King had already pioneered as the first fast food restaurant to launch a movie promotion.