Why Cinnabon Once Got In Trouble For A Star Wars Tribute

It's hard to imagine a Cinnabon without thinking of those kiosks in malls and airports and there is a good reason for that. Part of Cinnabon's marketing strategy involves placing stores in high-traffic pedestrian areas to lure in passers-by with their sweet, intoxicating aromas.

American malls are gradually going the way of the dinosaur, but it seems safe to say that most major airports aren't folding anytime soon. And Cinnabons can often be found in gas station rest stops off the interstate as well. As of August 2022, Cinnabon was still holding strong, with 654 locations in the U.S.

Not to mention that Cinnabon received a serious promotional boost recently when the critically-acclaimed show "Better Call Saul" featured the baked goods chain prominently in its final season, showing protagonist Saul Goodman working as a general manager of a Cinnabon (per Fast Company). Cinnabon marketing executives have embraced the product placement as a compliment, whether intended or not, running Saul-related promotions and generating mostly positive buzz on social media for the brand.

While Cinnabon appears to have made all the right PR moves with its good-humored approach to "Better Call Saul," it once landed itself in hot water for a "Star Wars" tribute gone wrong.

A not so sweet tweet

Social media followers can be a fickle bunch, with people loving you one day and abandoning you in droves on the next. As a major brand, you never know what is going to happen when you click that button and hit post. Will you be celebrated or reviled? Liked or get the angry emoji?

Cinnabon found out the hard way after Carrie Fisher's death on December 27, 2016. Fisher, best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" films, was adored by fans, and tributes popped up everywhere on the internet upon her passing (per Yahoo! Life). Most of these were poignant messages of thanks and love that also alluded to the movie and her classic character, Leia.

Sensing an opportunity to connect with its audience over a pop culture phenomenon, Cinnabon posted a social media message of its own that didn't go over so well. The caption read, "RIP Carrie Fisher, you'll always have the best buns in the galaxy." It was a reference to the hairstyle Fisher's character wears, but the joke didn't land and social media fumed over what many perceived as an offensive, insensitive remark intended to take advantage of the sad occasion to promote the company. The social media backlash got so bad that Cinnabon even deleted the tweet and issued a formal apology tweet lamenting the post (per CNBC). At least they didn't have to call Saul for legal advice.