You’d never know over a year has passed since the theatrical delight ‘Frozen’ skated its way into our hearts. In that short time, ‘Frozen’ has gone from a holiday box office hit to a pop culture icon with female lead, Elsa (played by Idina Menzel), paving the way. TIME even named her the “Most Influential Character of 2014,” and her merchandise has topped the Christmas lists of little girls everywhere. Here are five PR and marketing lessons we can learn from this Disney masterpiece:
1. Appeal to multiple audiences Audiences across American quickly fell in love with Frozen. Even I have to admit I crank up the volume and rock out when “Let It Go” comes on. Not only do kids love it – the obvious target – but parents also enjoy the catchy music and pithy dialogue. Even dogs love it! By appealing to such a wide variety of audiences, Frozen got full market penetration and immense success.
2. Take a modern approach Frozen has been acclaimed as the most progressive Disney movie ever, and the strategy obviously worked. Disney decided to roll with the times and created a movie that reflects our empowering and inclusive society. With controversial scenes like the gay trading post owner with a family, this movie certainly took some risks. Strong conservatives went so far as to call it “homosexual propaganda,” but I think the $1.27 billion worldwide gross says those haters were in the minority.
The movie also paints a more modern view of women. I don’t know about you, but the first time Disney made a movie where the girl saves the day – Enchanted – I did a serious happy dance. Frozen sings the same tune. New age moms everywhere are thrilled their daughters are finally idolizing a strong female character who discovers liberation and self-acceptance. Who wants a girl who can’t keep track of her fabulous shoes or a pale chick just dying for a kiss as a role model? Not I!
As communications professionals, we shouldn’t be afraid to take calculated risks and test the boundaries a little. We can’t get so comfortable that our messages and tactics gets stale and generic… and if we do, we should know when it bring in a fresh set of eyes for a new, modern perspective.
3. If it’s working, make a Barbie If you have something that audiences love, milk it! Frozen wasn’t settling for just a big screen to DVD run; they went all the way. The Oscar-winning anthem dominated the Billboard Hot 100 this spring. Elsa received a recurring role on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” creating a 31% increase in ratings. Frozen is now on ice (how’s that for irony?). And, the singing Elsa doll recently outpaced Barbie as the best-selling toy in America. Not to mention the variety of other merch you can purchase. Frozen flatware anyone? Coming soon: a ‘Frozen’ Epcot attraction and there’s talk of a sequel.
For us this means using great content in multiple ways. Did you create an infographic that audiences are going crazy over? Great! Promote it on social media, add it to your website, create posters for your employees, etc. You probably shouldn’t make a doll, but you get the idea!
4. Find a low competition market and own it
In all fairness, the competition Elsa was opposing for the most influential title included Hello Kitty, Mr. Poo and my personal favorite – Kim Kardashian’s animated avatar from her mobile game. This isn’t a hard choice, people! When it comes to PR and marketing, we should find messages and points of difference that we can own rather than trying to say the same thing as everyone else and getting lost in the noise.
5. ‘Let It Go’
If there is anything we all learned from Frozen it’s “Let It Go.” This is more of a life lesson, but while the stress of the holidays has us all a little crazy, it’s a good reminder to “keep calm and ‘Let It Go’!” What lessons have you learned from this or other box office hits? Share in the comments!