Tell us more about Disney Princess Academy.
Last year, we started the Disney Princess Academy and it was a success. The idea is drawn from the Disney Princess brand, which today is the largest girl’s brand in India. So Disney Princess is really all about the stories, and for little girls, the ultimate desire is to be a Disney Princess; to dress like one, feel like a princess and obviously to meet a Disney Princess. For the Disney Princess Academy, we shortlist a number of girls to be part of the Academy, and the entries are through a contest. The campaign is already on air currently. Last year, we saw 600,000 entries out of which we chose 1,800 girls. This year we are planning to choose 3,000 girls to participate in the event.
The academy takes place on a certain day at a leading mall in the chosen cities, in Delhi, we are holding it at Select City Mall on 1st and 2nd February. The idea of the Academy is to instill the qualities of the Disney Princesses in girls like compassion, adventure, standing up for one’s rights and being bold. At the end of the day, the girls are given a certificate from Disney Princess Academy as participants and even get to meet Disney Princesses who are flown down from the US.
As a child, I always wondered why Disney Princesses must wait for Princes to come save them. How have Disney Princesses empowered themselves?
Today if you watch Frozen, you would see it is a beautiful film that goes away from the idea of Princesses as we have imagined them. Similarly, two years ago, we produced a film called Tangled which was basically about Rapunzel, a courageous and adventurous girl who takes risks and goes to discover herself. She doesn’t even marry a prince; it is a thief who turns into a good person because of her goodness. That is the modern day Princess, someone who fulfills her dreams by her own initiative. Mulan is another such princess.
How are you promoting the various Disney brands through such events?
We have increased our focus on certain brands at certain period of time depending on the market and the need of the hour. But there is something planned for every franchise in some form or the other in every region. Our core brands which are 365 days character brands are Mickey, Princess, Cars, Spiderman, Ironman and Winnie the Pooh. Beyond these, other brands that we may bring in and franchise are focused on at specific periods of time.
How are Disney Consumer Products reaching customers?
We manufacture apparel in India as well as abroad. The toys are imported as well as manufactured depending upon what is possible to manufacture here. Our brands, such as Princess, Mickey and Cars, and all our character brands, are associated with Lego.
How does the association with Disney affect your partners?
An association with Disney enables our partners to grow along with the brand and be recognised. One of our licensees for plush toys, My Baby Excels, has been acclaimed for producing good designs and the company has benefitted a lot from our partnership. Not just small players, even big brands have the advantage of differentiating their products by selling Disney-themed products. For example, Bajaj offers differentiated fans for children by manufacturing Princess fans, Spiderman fans as opposed to a normal fan. Similarly, Portico can add value to its bedding collection by developing a line of products aimed at the kids market. Such differentiation makes retailing easier for manufacturers and even appeals to consumers. So both small and large companies get benefits from licensing partnerships with Disney. The licensees on their part offer a wide distribution channel that the licensor is not capable of reaching on their own.
How are you leveraging the digital medium?
Games and apps are very important for us as it is another way to reach our target group. For us, being able to tell the Disney story through any media vehicle is of utmost importance. So we are available on mobile devices, PCs, etc. We are always looking forward to form collaborations that are relevant and make sense. Some of our earlier digital associations have been with Temple Run for a Brave themed game and with Angry Birds to produce a Star Wars themed game. A number of Marvel and Disney characters appear in our games. It is really exciting for us because we have a host of characters under all our brands.
What is your take on Bollywood’s recent tryst with Licensing after Dhoom and Krrish?
I am extremely pleased to see this development. It is nice to see Bollywood understanding the nuances of licensing. The industry as a whole is maturing, and over the next few years, we will see the industry flourish. A number of franchise films have worked well with licensing in the past but it needs to be kept in mind that the content should be relevant for a long time and go beyond just one medium. The content needs to be relatable for a long period of time and not for just a few months in order to convert it to merchandise.