More than just pink to marketing princesses

‘Frozen’ heroines Anna and Elsa will join Disney’s ‘ultimate lifestyle brand’ of merchandise

Elsa, one of the central characters in Disney’s Frozen: the “princess” theme is downplayed in the film’s marketing, with Disney careful to pick a gender-unspecific title

Elsa, one of the central characters in Disney’s Frozen: the “princess” theme is downplayed in the film’s marketing, with Disney careful to pick a gender-unspecific title

 

With the DVD of Frozen apparently “flying off the shelves” in Ireland, princesses were never far away at Disney executive Mike Stagg’s briefing in Dublin last week on the company’s upcoming plans .

Frozen ’s two heroic, self-sacrificing sisters, Anna and Elsa, will eventually become princesses number 12 and 13 in the “official” line-up of Disney Princess dolls that includes Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Merida from Brave, last year’s best-seller, Rapunzel (as featured in Tangled ) and “heritage” characters such as Walt Disney Company’s original princess, Snow White.

But while the relationship between Anna and Elsa is the central one in Frozen the movie, the “princess” theme is downplayed in its marketing, with Disney careful to pick a gender-unspecific title and choose group images of the animated cast in its promotional posters.

Frozen has universal appeal,” says Stagg, who is vice-president and general manager of retail for the Walt Disney Company in the UK and Ireland. Indeed, its successful “four-quadrant” strategy (meaning it pulled in boys, girls, over-25s and under-25s) has helped it become the highest-grossing animated movie of all time with global takings of $1.072 billion. Some €5 million of that has come from the Irish box office.

Disney, as any quick glance down a toy store aisle will confirm, takes a different tack on the movie spin-offs. “It gets broken down by gender when it comes to the merchandising,” says Stagg, who identified Toy Story as the Disney franchise with the most gender-neutral marketing. Disney Princess, dubbed “the ultimate lifestyle brand” is a consistently pink affair aimed firmly at girls aged two to six, although the company’s marketers say they also make “a concerted effort” to highlight the characters’ individual attributes beyond the tiaras – citing bravery and loyalty.

Anna is the chief identification point in Frozen, but it is the Elsa character, burdened with supernatural power, who sings the Oscar-winning Let It Go. Both dolls have been a hit with their target market as a result, the company says.

More princesses are in the Disney pipeline, with a live-action Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Lily James, coming to cinemas in 2015.