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Star Wars Ad Campaign Powers Up Duracell Before Shift to Berkshire Hathaway

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

The force seems to be with Berkshire Hathaway as a major movie tie-in is likely to power up interest in Duracell batteries just as Berkshire takes over the world-leader in alkaline batteries from its previous owner, Procter & Gamble.

Berkshire agreed to acquire Duracell in November 2014 in a tax-free swap of stock and cash that traded Berkshire’s $4.7 billion stake in Procter & Gamble for the Duracell. The battery manufacturer will also be recapitalized by P&G with $1.7 billion in cash.

According to a Duracell official, the deal looks set to conclude in February 2016.

Just two months before the deal finalizes, Duracell has launched its Star Wars “Battle for Christmas Morning” movie tie-in with a big budget TV campaign that was shot on an all-new anamorphic camera lens and aspect ratio that were only used previously on the new Star Wars film.

A Movie Quality TV Spot

The TV spot debuted December 7th and is scheduled to run through December 31st.

Shot by directed by Star Wars fan and director of the Night at the Museum film series, Shawn Levy, the spot features a 14-year old boy and his 9-year old sister entering a limitless world of creativity once Duracell Quantum batteries are inserted into their new lightsaber toys.

The 60-second spot, which features appearances by original Star Wars characters, C-3PO and R2-D2, highlights the power and importance of imagination for the whole family.

“This ad is a whole story within a finite number of seconds; a boy gets a lightsaber on Christmas morning, he pops in his Duracell batteries to power up his toy and suddenly, within the real world, is this injection of make believe and imagination,” said Shawn Levy, director. “It’s really about the transformation from the real into the fantastical and how these little batteries provide the juice for this whole imagined universe and adventure.”

As a promotional partner of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Duracell collaborated with many of the forces behind Star Wars, including Disney, Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Skywalker Sound to create an authentic Star Wars experience and bring this action story to life.

The TV spot received expert guidance from famed cinematographer, Daniel Mindel, who was the director of photography on the new Star Wars film, as well as the director of photography on the 2009 film Star Trek and the 2013 film Star Trek Into Darkness.

A Galaxy of Movie Tie-Ins

Star Wars movie tie-ins are ubiquitous as the highly anticipated film has been on manufacturers and retailers minds for the past few years. Disney, which purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, has tied the film to everything from a Darth Vader-black Dodge Viper from Fiat Chrysler to CoverGirl makeup; however, none would seem to be a better fit than Duracell as the power source for galaxy of Star Wars toys and games.

The movie industry is anticipating that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will smash opening day and opening week box office records around the globe when it hits movie theater screens on December 18. The jumbo box office numbers are guaranteed as there are already over $50 million in presold tickets for opening weekend. The big question is will it enjoy a run at the biggest movie of all-time, a record that currently belongs to Avatar, which hit theaters in 2009 and took in $2.788 billion in theaters world-wide

For Berkshire, hopefully it will launch a great sales year as all the Star Wars toys need a constant supply of batteries. While Berkshire likes to own companies for the long term, it never hurts to start a marriage with an interstellar honeymoon.

© 2015 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Slashes Stake in Munich Re

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

For the past four months, Berkshire Hathaway’s leadership has been expressing its displeasure with the state of the reinsurance market. Now, reinsurer Munich Re has reported that Berkshire has cut its stake in the company from roughly 12% down to 9%.

“It’s a business whose prospects have turned for the worse and there’s not much we can do about it,” Warren Buffett said at the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.

“The reinsurance business not as good as it once was and is unlikely to get better,” Charlie Munger added. “Money has come in, not because they want to be in reinsurance, but because it’s an uncorrelated asset class. We’re in it for the long haul.”

Buffett’s and Munger’s words were in line with those of Ajit Jain, who is the head of Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance.

“What was a very lucrative business is no longer a very lucrative business going forward,” Jain said in July in The Wall Street Journal.

Berkshire originally disclosed a stake in Munich Re in January 2010, when it reported a 3.045% stake in the German reinsurer.

© 2015 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.