December 28, 2006
Pixie Dust to Gold Dust: Princesses, Tinker Bell, and The Fairies
A brand name saga is unfolding for Disney that seems to be a continuation of my September post about The Princesses brand collection.
First, just before Christmas, feminist writer Peggy Orenstein wrote an article in the New York Times entitled "What's Wrong With Cinderella" bemoaning the rise of the Princesses brand name from $300 million in 2001 to a very pretty $3 billion today.
It's on its way to becoming "the largest girls' franchise on the planet", dwarfing Mattel's "world of girl" and Saks' purchase and expansion of Club Libby Lu, with its offering of things like "Princess Phones" and "Princess-Makeover Birthday Parties."
Princesses are in, leading Orenstein to ask some hard questions about what, exactly, being a princess swathed in layers of pink frill awaiting a handsome prince is teaching little girls in the age of "third wave feminism."
Paris Hilton has latched on to the idea of being a "princess," referring to herself as an American princess fantasy and even astrologers have gotten into the act, explaining via the stars why princesses rule popular culture.
There's a lot of debate with many parents saying that it's all no big deal, pointing out that girls seem to "choose" the frilly colors, as if being a princess is a natural desire for any four year old girl. No matter how we look at it, the Princesses brand name rules the day.
Enter the new Tinker Bell, who is poised to make the Princesses look babyish.
The Tinker Bell brand name is meant to be the logical next step to the Princesses: once the girl has outgrown Cinderella, she can move towards this newly revamped, much naughtier brand name.
Already Disney sells merchandise at its theme parks, like t-shirts that say "Spoiled to Perfection" and magnets and light switch plates reading "Dark Tink: the bad girl side of Miss Bell that Walt never saw."
Think of what an eleven year old girl will look like in a Tink t-shirt reading “Mood Subject to Change Without Notice" and you get the picture. Tinker Bell merchandise racks up a whopping $400 million in sales right now, and the new movie, where Tink speaks, is set to be the launch pad for the edgier Tinker Bell and Fairies brand names.
The Tinker Bell movie's fall 2007 release has been pushed back - it may not even see daylight until 2008 or even 2009. This must be bad news to Disney, who has already been building the Tinker Bell and Fairies names on the release of the movie.
A delay that long could see toy makers and clothing makers under serious pressure...especially those who have already begun merchandising Fairies products. We're talking $500 million of lost revenue. The problem? The movie as it is lacks appeal to older girls.
Another problem? American princess Paris Hilton's dog is named Tinker Bell, too.
It’s enough to make Captain Hook jump ship.
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