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M-I-C… K-E-Y… T-H-O-N-G: A Brief About Being Brand Appropriate

This past weekend I visited Disneyland Paris.

Sleeping Beauty Castle

[Fig. 1 – Sleeping Beauty Castle]

In addition to themepark attractions and constant entertainment, while browsing the merchandise/souvenir stores… among the mugs, hats, and shirts I came across the display pictured below…

[Fig. 2 – Mickey Knickers]

Sure, Walt Disney’s dream for the original Disneyland in California was to create an amusement park where kids and parents can have fun – but I don’t think he had this type of fun in mind.

I’m not a prude, but Mickey thongs are not brand appropriate.

Disney is all about family and magic. Mickey knickers say “if you’re not careful with these you’ll end up creating a family.”

With National Underwear Day upon us (Wednesday 5 August) this post seems all that more fitting.

Of course, the Disney branded apparel Product Manager would make the argument that European Guests have a high propensity to purchase souvenir lingerie and that Disney is simply offering legendary service by “giving the Guest what they want.”

However, one of the keys to a great brand is the discipline to not simply give the customer everything they want… To put a product in place where a sale can be made… But, to also ensure the item is within brand guidelines and guardrails.

Starbucks Connection

There was once a whole lotta hubbub at Starbucks when the merchandise team decided to play to the interests of dog-loving customers and created a line of Starbucks dog toys. In addition to water bowls and typical dog toys… the clincher was a chew ball with the Starbucks logo on it.


[Fig. 3 – Recreation of Product]

Starbucks Animal Finger Puppet

When company head, Howard Schultz found out about these products, he flipped out, and had the line immediately dropped. Unfortunately, the merch team’s filters weren’t in sync with Howard’s. A bummer… as time and money were wasted on Starbucks chews when they could have been put to work elsewhere.

Although, at the same time Starbucks was carrying a line of candystick-mounted finger-puppets to ‘make the kids happy.’

These sold extremely well… which justified the reason they kept making more versions. “Customers were voting with their wallets” was the arguement.

The finger puppets stuck around for years until CMO Anne Saunders had the moxie to finally kill the product line.

They were a great, quality product – just not appropriate at Starbucks.

Background

Disney: France – Built in 1992, originally called Euro Disney – the resort was rebranded Disneyland Paris in 1995 in effort to shake off poor attendance and some of the protests associated with the parks opening.

The re-branding must have worked as of last year Disneyland Paris was Europe’s most popular attraction – with more visitors than the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre combined. In ’07 14.5 million guests visited Disneyland Paris.

Starbucks: France – The French protested Starbucks when they were opening their first location in 2004. Now it is one of the most successful European markets for Starbucks and Parisians line-up to enjoy the coffee and American-style Starbucks service.

Last monty Starbucks opened their first location at Disneyland Paris… and the first “green” cafe in Europe.

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