October 2, 2005

Disney gives $150 mln send-off to ‘Cinderella’

By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Walt Disney Co is unleashing a
$150 million marketing blitz for the release of its "Cinderella
Special Edition" DVD this week in what one toy industry analyst
called "a smart strategic move" for a holiday season where
consumers may be pinching pennies.

The massive campaign rivals advertising to support
theatrical releases of Disney-Pixar hits "Finding Nemo" and
"The Incredibles."

The royal roll-out is for Disney's Princesses -- the media
company's brand that combines the heroines from many different
tales, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the
Beast's Belle, and Aladdin's Jasmine.

Despite early fears that mixing heroines from different
stories would dilute their power, the Princess line is closing
in on the popularity of Disney icons Mickey Mouse and Winnie
the Pooh.

Targeted at girls ages 4 to 6, the line launched in 2001
has grown to nearly $3 billion in annual worldwide retail
sales, Mary Beech, vice president of Girls Franchise Brands for
Disney's Consumer Products Division, told Reuters.

She called it the Cinderella marketing plan a model for
Disney. "It's strategies like this that we use to grow the
brand," she said.

Campaigns between divisions such as home video and toys are
uniquely coordinated, including a theme -- "Magic Lights" --
and box art, for hundreds of licensed items such as toys,
clothing and furniture that will be sold alongside the DVD,

The campaign begins on Sunday with the Disney-sponsored
"Cinderella Ball," complete with a pumpkin carriage and horses
for tiny "princesses" at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York

It peaks in Los Angeles on Tuesday with a screening of
"Cinderella" at a Hollywood theater and the release of the
$29.99 DVD and a $49.99 Collector's Gift Set.

"I think the Princess line has been the single strongest
initiative Disney has done in years," toy analyst Christopher
Byrne said on Friday. "(The campaign) is a really strong
strategic move."

Cinderella items hit most store shelves last week, and
Disney asked retailers to group the items with the DVD, Beech

"It will all look like one consistent look and be a very
powerful statement," Beech said. "All early indications are
that the merchandise is flying off the shelves."

Byrne said that could pay off well for Disney in what is
shaping up to be "a very competitive season for parents'

"There are a lot of families that are going to go out and
buy these (DVDs) because it's the platinum edition," he said.
"You're getting not only the DVD purchase, which is a planned
purchase, but some impulse purchases (of other Cinderella

The campaign also featured six weeks of billboard and TV
ads ahead of the DVD release and includes product giveaways
backed by Procter & Gamble Co's Swiffer Wet Jet brand.

"Cinderella," available on home video for the first time in
10 years and the first time ever on DVD, will be released
globally through mid-November, Disney officials said.