Lack of ‘Frozen’ Merch Means Chilly PR for Disney

princess elsa 150x150 Lack of ‘Frozen’ Merch Means Chilly PR for Disney

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Disney. (Pictured: Princess Elsa from Frozen.)

Call it a “good news, bad news” scenario. Disney is currently enjoying the success of its movie Frozen becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time. They can’t gloat for too long, though; the news has shifted from accolades to tears of frustration and temper tantrums, both from children and adults. The problem? A shortage of Frozen merchandise.

Social media hath no fury like mommies frustrated by not being able to buy their children what they want. Specifically, the Princess Elsa dress – a sparkly blue gown like the one worn by Frozen’s heroine. The movie was already a hit, the DVD is now out and reaching an even larger audience, and worldwide demand for the dress far exceeds supply. The costume, usually around $50 in the US, is apparently going for over $1000 on ebay. If you can find one.

When has Disney ever underestimated the popularity of one of its movies? It’s possible that this film became bigger than even the Mouse House foresaw. But with frustrations raging online and in the media from mothers who can’t get what their kids want, Disney had better grant some wishes soon.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Disney. The low grade is not for running out of merchandise, but because running out implies underestimating their own success, and being unable to rectify the situation.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Spin! Spin like a princess at the ball, and then be a fairy godmother, granting your consumers’ wishes. First thing should be a statement saying how fantastic it is that your widgets were so popular that demand for them exceeded supply. Second is getting more widgets out quickly, in this case before a sweet animated movie invokes episodes more like The Hunger Games. This is a problem every company dreams of, but action keeps it from turning into a PR nightmare.

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to actor Mark Wahlberg, who announced that, after a year of secretly taking online classes, he has earned his high school diploma. Growing up in a tough neighborhood in Boston, a young Wahlberg started doing drugs and ran afoul of the law multiple times before being arrested and tried for assault at 16. Emerging from prison with an attitude adjustment, Wahlberg found fame in the band New Kids on the Block and in a series of provocative underwear ads for Calvin Klein. Two Oscar nominations later, the 42-year-old said that getting his diploma was an important personal achievement. The perfect PR tale of redemption and a personal turnaround. Will someone make a movie about this?

boehner The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to John Boehner, Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, who again showed powerlessness to corral his caucus and keep its more intransigent members from stampeding the entire herd off a cliff. Boehner gave in this week to the Tea Party faction of his caucus and vowed to proceed with another effort to defund Obamacare, President Obama’s signature health care reform initiative, or shut down the government. Even Senate Republicans, as well as GOP commentators and other Obamacare opponents outside government, have decried the Republican House strategy as futile and self-destructive. Boehner previously has argued much the same but reversed course to accommodate his colleagues – again showing that for House Republicans, the tail wags the dog.

escape from tomorrow disney poster 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD to indie horror film Escape from Tomorrow. The film was shot secretly on location at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, without permission from the company, telling the tale of a man’s disturbing experiences during the last day of a family vacation at the amusement park. Due to Disney’s reputation for being fiercely protective of its brand, the cast and crew used guerrilla filmmaking techniques to avoid attracting attention during its making. Since early screenings, the Mouse House’s response has been a stoic “no comment,”  knowing that in PR, paying attention means giving attention. Presumably the silence before the legal storm…..


Sick Leave Issue Makes Disney Look Ill

 Sick Leave Issue Makes Disney Look Ill

The PR Verdict: “D” (PR Problematic) for Disney World.

Walt Disney World: The Happiest Place on Earth… Unless you’re not feeling well. That’s the word out of Florida, where the family-friendly entertainment resort is being slammed for blocking employees from receiving paid sick time.

That’s what the press is reporting, anyway. In truth, Disney World and other businesses are objecting to state legislation that would allow local governments in Florida to enact their own wage-and-benefits laws. Presumably, Disney’s lobbyists are arguing that, in addition to an inherent question of fairness, having to conform to potentially dozens of local laws would place an undue burden on their clients.

We use the word “presumably” because Disney has not commented on the matter and its position, if public, is nowhere to be found. As a result, the media is carrying only the messages of disgruntled employees, their unions, and a grassroots group called MomsRising that has taken the issue of guaranteed sick time national. Last week, a group of MomsRising activists who tried to deliver a petition to Disney’s corporate offices were turned away by security.

This isn’t Disney’s first tussle with employees. A few years ago, a union representing 25,000 Disney employees shot a film called Mouse Trapped 2010. In it, workers tell tales of earning less than $8 an hour after three years of service and having to go to local churches for handouts despite being employed full-time. It’s a small wage after all, and this latest news could bring ill will to Disney’s PR.

THE PR VERDICT: “D” (PR Problematic) for Disney World. One need only look to Walmart or Michael Moore’s film Roger & Me slamming General Motors to see what might be in store for the Magic Kingdom.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Silence may be golden, but it’s not always the right PR move. Once your name is in the headlines, it can pay to clarify your position. This is particularly true for a place like Disney World, a global powerhouse of a business built on fairy tales – being seen as being mean just doesn’t fit the brand. Disney may think it has bigger fish to fry than dealing with some squeaky wheels in Florida, but management would do well to recall the famous advice of U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill: “All politics is local.”





The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers


conradblack 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK:  “A” (PR Perfect) to Conrad Black (left). For sheer entertainment value, the former media mogul’s interview with BBC’s Newsnight wins hands down. Black breaks almost every PR rule of thumb for media interviews, yet emerges defiant and singularly unmovable. His first interview in the UK since he was released from prison, Black never gives in and never explains, responding to aggressive questioning with one splendid insult after another. By the end of the Q&A, there is some begrudging admiration for the man. This is Conrad Black unfiltered and unrepentant. Watch the interview here.


 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (Full Fiasco) to Richard Mourdock (at right, with Mitt Romney), the Republican Indiana Senate candidate whose platform includes denial of abortion to rape victims. “I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen,” Mourdock said during this week’s Indiana Senate debate. Mitt Romney did not distance himself from the controversial candidate, giving Democrats ammunition and the PR world further proof that staying on message is key. Saying little keeps the PR options open while being frank creates needless complications.


Minniemouse 150x150 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” PR AWARD TO: Plus Size activists, who garnered over 120,000 signatures for a petition arguing that the latest marketing campaign from NY retailer Barneys should be dropped. What’s causing offense? A revamped super-skinny Minnie Mouse. Advocates are angry, claiming it sends a disturbing image of body shape, despite the fact that in the campaign, the “new” Minnie briefly walks the runway as a model  in a dream sequence. So the Plus Size movement targets a dream had by a cartoon character; was it really worth the effort? Choose your battles, and your cartoon mice, carefully.