Grading The Disney Princesses on Magazine Covers: Part 1

You may have already seen these floating about the internet recently. Created by (I presume) whoever runs the Petite Tiaras tumblelog, they’re quite an interesting collection.

Are the magazine a good fit for the characters though? This 3-part weekly series of posts aims to find out.

Snow White in Vogue

Vogue is described on the official Conde Naste site as:

America’s cultural barometer, putting fashion in the context of the larger world we live in- how we dress, live, socialize; what we eat, listen to, watch; who leads and inspires us.

From its beginnings to today, three central principles have set Vogue apart: a commitment to visual genius, investment in storytelling that puts women at the center of the culture, and a selective, optimistic editorial eye.

Vogue’s story is the story of women, of culture, of what is worth knowing and seeing, of individuality and grace, and of the steady power of earned influence. For millions of women each month, Vogue is the eye of the culture, inspiring and challenging them to see things differently, in both themselves and the world.

So does Snow White fit into that kind of magazine? Perhaps not. She is not really a cultural figure per se and her story is far from the usual high-society gossip that one would expect from the pages of Vogue. The cover itself is good, but it does completely neglect any aspect of the fashion scene for which Vogue is [in]famous for.

Overall: B-

Cinderella in ELLE

Surprising enough because she’s facing away from the reader, Cinderella is the cover girl for ELLE magazine, whose mission is:

…to influence women’s whole lives, helping them to be chic, smart, and modern. With intelligent, in-depth writing and a razor-sharp curation of fashion that is at once aspirational and accessible, ELLE’s readers and users are building not just personal style, but personal power.

Cinderella does fit this, for the most part. The stories touch on aspects of fashion with a strong emphasis on the women behind them. Cinderella herself is an aspirational story, as she overcomes the difficulties of being imprisoned in her own house to marrying the prince.

Overall: A-

Tinkerbell in InStyle

Tinkerbell is one of the most well-known Disney characters and has endured and progressed far beyond the original Peter Pan movie.  Featuring on InStyle magazine, which according to the official description has:

…emerged as the world’s premier media brand in celebrity, style, fashion, beauty and beyond. InStyle takes a uniquely fun and inviting attitude towards celebrity style in all its forms including its flagship magazine which reaches an audience of 9.6 million readers each month.

Tinkerbell is most certainly a celebrity in this day and age; being a merchandising powerhouse for Disney and a star in her own movies. InStyle is a good fit for her. She’s a fun character with a positive attitude and it is fair to say that she’s more than just a little bit sassy. This magazine cover is fairly accurate, with a “53 Great Outfit Ideas” article, a few personal articles and even a recipe guide to round it out.

Overall: A

More to come next week in part 2, including Aerial, Princess Aurora and Belle

When Dual Advertising Makes You Scratch Your Head in Wonder

The other day, the girlfriend bought InStyle magazine for the Taylor Swift article. Long story short, she decided to flip through the entire thing with an eye to creating a blog post about the ads. Well, today I’ve stolen her idea in order to write about one ad in particular.

Dual advertising has been around since day dot, especially in the entertainment industry. How else could studios get their films in magazines and extend the brand beyond the cinema? Espousing a product’s connections to a film or vice-versa is a well worn marketing gimmick that has been proven to work time and time again.

While toys are perhaps the most obvious choice, there have been plenty of example in live-action too. The James Bond films are great examples, he drives an Aston Martin, wears an Omega watch and drinks only Martini.

So without further adieu, let’s have a look at today’s subject:

Warning, large image (c. 1.4MB)

Yes, it’s not an animated film but that’s OK, it’s put out by a studio who used to (and to a certain extent still do) make their bread and butter from animation. Just sit and study it for a minute (you can click through for the full-size version).

Here we have an advertisement that is for O.P.I. Nail Lacquer that has something in it to make the polish appear cracked or worn. Fair enough, but what is that at the top of the page? Why it’s the logo for the Pirates of the Caribbean set of movies that [gasp] is in theaters right now!

Right, so, the ad attempts to tie the pirate movie with the cracked nail polish. Fair enough. I don’t see much of a connection between the two anyway, so how does the ad accomplish this task? By putting a mermaid in there!

Now when you think of Disney + Mermaid, Pirates of the Caribbean is not the first film to pop into my head. While there may be mermaids in the latest installment, that’s certainly news to me. Although to be fair, they have thrown in a pirate ship in the background for good measure, even though it’s just sitting there doing nothing.

Secondly, the tag is “Nail color you’re sure to TREASURE!” OK, but again, why do you say that when all there is in the background is a boat and a mermaid? When I think of treasure I think of a chest of gold, no? Ostensibly the “treasure” connection is supposed to be upheld by the already implied connection to “pirates”. However, visually, there is nothing to reinforce it and as a result, the tagline seems wholly inappropriate to the setting.

Lastly we have the only truly obvious connection to pirates:

(apologies for the poor scan, apparently magazines are tricky when it comes to that)

Gut-wrenching pun aside, it is buried down in the bottom right corner of the ad, where you have to have read the rest of the ad before you get to it.

All in all, this is the kind of dual-branding advertisement that makes you wonder how on earth these two came together. Sadly , it seems that it has a marketing department stamp all over it. No thought seems to have been given to the context of the product or the film. Yes, a pirate film is hard to sell, but that should not mean throwing all sensibility to the wind, right?

I mean, nail polish? No-one outside of an ad agency or marketing department desperate to share ad costs would even consider putting the two together. It’s not a particularly dumb move, but it doesn’t exactly shine with inspiration either.

Smart tie-ins can greatly improve a film’s commercial health and can provide a positive association between the product and the film. Done well it can bring in millions for both parties, but done poorly, it can leave each looking desperate and foolish.