Today I have a small piece in the Guardian about Disney fairies - the new phenomenon which is aimed at those young girls who are growing out of Disney princesses. Disney, it appears, is aiming to capture the imagination of little girls from toddlerdom to teenagerdom!
Here is the link to the Guardian piece, http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2031641,00.html
Or you can read my original piece here:
By Sarah Ebner
Once upon a time there was a Scot called Andy Mooney. He travelled to faraway Hollywood and changed the lives of millions of young girls. For it was Mooney who begat the Disney Princess phenomenon – proving that an apparently simple idea can be among the most successful.
Mooney decided to join together all the Disney Princesses – adding in a few other heroines, such as Mulan and Pocahontas, whose link to royalty was somewhat tenuous. Little girls across the world were enraptured, and sales of Disney merchandise, from vests to bicycles, rose from $300m in 2001 to $3.4bn last year.
The genius – and I say this as the mother of a five-year-old who has a poster of Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) on her wall, and Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty dresses in her wardrobe - was that this all happened without having to invent any new characters, and with no initial fanfare or advertising.
It sounds like a happy ending, but Disney and Mooney are not resting on their laurels. Instead, having captured two to five year olds, they’ve now got five to eights in their sights. Disney Fairies are set to be the next big thing, and if the website, http://disney.go.com/fairies/, is anything to go by, Tinker Bell and her new friends look like a flying version of the Spice Girls.
“Tinker Bell is perennially popular for us,” explains Kirsten De Groot, European Director of Disney Princess and Girls franchises. “She’s a very vivacious, fun character, and her world of fairies resonates with older girls.”
The American website has already had nearly 17 million hits in just one month, and a British version launches in the summer. A Tinker Bell film (which finally gives the little fairy a voice, courtesy of Brittany Murphy) will be released onto DVD next year while a new Disney Fairies magazine is already proving popular. There is also soon to be an onslaught of books, costumes and other fairy merchandise.
So how do the fairies compare to the princesses? Well, there’s a distinct lack of ballgowns and no princes in sight. The fairies will be able to mix with each other (unlike the princesses, who are all limited to their original settings) and there’s also been an obvious attempt to make them ethnically diverse, although beauty is still as much of a requirement as ever. Tinker Bell, who looks as if she’s had a 21st century makeover, is the only blonde, while Silvermist even looks a little like one of the Bratz – although that’s clearly a heretical thing to suggest to anyone at Disney, and De Groot, naturally, disagrees.
“Do you wish you were a fairy?” asks the new website, and a whopping 87 per cent of girls say they do (as opposed to the 13 per cent “happy being me.”). Disney will be thrilled. But when your daughters no longer believe in fairies, the corporation will still be there. High School Musical – the Disney TV movie which has captured the imaginations of 8 to 12 year olds across the world – is ready and waiting.