How Social Media Quickly “Braved” Disney Change
May 17, 2013
May 17, 2013
We all know social media has changed brand communications and crisis management. The latest example of the trend is Disney. Account Coordinator Amey Owen reflects on the issue: Recently, Disney crowned Merida, the main character of the popular Walt Disney Pixar movie “Brave,” the 11th Princess in the Disney brand. To conform Merida to the appearance of the other princesses, Disney redesigned her to have a more slender waist, slightly larger bust, make-up, tamer hair, and no appearance of her trademark weaponry. Soon after this change was made, social media buzzed as thousands of people, predominately women, voiced opposition to the princess's redesigned appearance. This buzz quickly let to a Change.org online petition (“Disney: Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave!“), which gained over 213,300 signatures in less than two weeks. Talk about a movement. Despite initially refusing to budge (issuing a statement saying that the “new” Merida “remains the same strong and determined Merida from the movie whose inner qualities have inspired moms and daughters around the world”), Disney ultimately responded to the outcry by quietly returning Merida to her original character design on their official princess website. As one pundit added, “Social media obviously allows for rapid fire communication, and when savvy opponents got wind of what Disney was planning, they took the now well worn path of Twitter, Facebook and online campaigns and created an online buzz that Disney couldn't ignore.” Lesson learned? Social media changes the pace of everything. Twitter and Facebook have made it incredibly easy for people to express their concerns, vent even more if frustrations go unanswered, and team up with like-minded people to create change – all with a few keystrokes and a click of a button. This creates uncomfortable situations for brands caught in crossfire and emphasizes the growing need for crisis communications. Social media cannot-and should not-be ignored. To keep up with the often explosive nature of social media, businesses need to proactively listen and be prepared with clear messaging to provide consumers and/or customers with an answer.