Disney Princess is a media franchise owned by The Walt Disney Company. The franchise has included toys, games, music and videos, apparel, and storybooks, as well as productions like Disney on Ice. The Disney Princess product line was created in the late 1990s and early 2000s to more profitably merchandise the conceptually similar female protagonists of various Disney animated films. Although the characters of the line exist individually in their own self-contained films, the Disney Princess line places these characters side-by-side visually and considers each princess abstractly related to each other's story through similar theming.
Brand Development HistoryEdit
Former Nike, Inc. executive Andy Mooney was appointed chairman of The Walt Disney Company's Disney Consumer Products division in the late 1990s. While attending his first Disney on Ice show, Mooney noticed that the princess costumes of the girls in the crowd were not authentic Disney products. Concerned by this missed merchandising opportunity, Mooney addressed the company the following morning and encouraged them to commence work on a official, themed Disney Princess media franchise.
"Standing in line in the arena [of a Disney on Ice show], I was surrounded by little girls dressed head to toe as princesses...They weren’t even Disney products. They were generic princess products they’d appended to a Halloween costume. And the light bulb went off. Clearly there was latent demand here. So the next morning I said to my team, 'O.K., let’s establish standards and a color palette and talk to licensees and get as much product out there as we possibly can that allows these girls to do what they’re doing anyway: projecting themselves into the characters from the classic movies.'"
Unconventionally, Mooney and his team launched the Disney Princess line without utilizing any focus groups and with minimal marketing and yet three years later the Disney Princess line was a billion dollar brand; by 2012, Disney increased revenue to 3 billion dollars, making it the top seller of consumer entertainment products globally. Disney issued princess product licenses to Hasbro for games, Mattel dolls, and plastic Fisher-Price figurines in 2000, allowing the franchise to meet the $1 billion mark in revenue in three years.
Brand Inclusion HistoryEdit
The original line-up consisted of princesses Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tinker Bell, five of whom are royal by blood, two whom have married into royalty, and two who fit the princess-type. The Disney Princess line was the first time these characters were marketed in a separate franchise rather than as products of their original films. However, Mooney decided that, when featured on marketing advertisements such as posters, the princesses should never make eye contact with each other in an attempt to keep their individual "mythologies" intact. "[Each] stares off in a slightly different direction as if unaware of the others' presence.
The franchise currently comprises eleven female protagonists from eleven separate Disney Animation and/or Pixar films. Each princess is either royal by birth, royal by marriage, or considered "princess-like" due to strength of her character, and the theme and setting of her film. The franchise does not include all princess or princess-like characters in Disney animated films, but rather only officially includes characters selected from the Disney film cannon for marketing reasons.
Disney princess and princess-type characters are excluded from the Disney Princess branding based on how well their products sell or how well they fit into the current theming of the brand. Characters considered too unpopular (e.g. Kida from Disney's Atlantis) or too independently successful like Queen Elsa and Princess Anna from the film Frozen have been excluded, at least temporarily. Characters such as Tinker Belle from Peter Pan, Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Alice from Alice in Wonderland were considered princess-like and included previously at different points, but were later removed from the line-up as the brand changed its conception of princess-like inclusions through the years. Mulan remains the only non-royal in the line-up due to her continued popularity and her acts of significant heroism in her film.
Tiana is the first character added to the Princess franchise officially as of March 14, 2010; she took Tinker Bell's short-lived place as the ninth member. Rapunzel was inducted into the Disney Princess franchise as the tenth member on October 2, 2011. On May 11, 2013, Disney added the first Pixar character Merida, the eleventh princess of the franchise.
- Disney Princess Official Website
- Disney Princess on the Official Disney Junior Website
- How Disney Princesses Became a Multi-Billion Dolar Brand on MCNG Marketing.
- Introduction of Merida into the line on Inside the Magic.
- Introduction of Rapunzel into the line according to Fox News.
- Introduction of Tiana into the line according to Bloomberg.