drinking new coke at disney

mickeymouseThe great thing about established brands is that they all have a deep core element that they can always refer back to. This core attribute defines the brand in the public’s mind.

  • McDonalds has the arches and the clown.
  • Playboy has Heff.
  • And Mickey Mouse is the square one that Disney can always go back to

But after building 81 years of brand equity with Mickey, Disney is rebranding the mouse. They hope to “re-imagineer” Mickey to show his darker side. They want him to be cantakerous and cunning.

What a horrendously bad idea.

For years, marketers have had the example of the spectacular New Coke disaster to use as a warning for brands not to mess with core brand attributes. We’re about to get another example.

Of course, Disney does have a problem. They’ve failed to keep Mickey relevant to a younger generation. But this is not the answer.

The first step of trying to make Mickey more edgy is an appearance in a new video game:

Epic Mickey, designed for Nintendo’s Wii console, is set in a “cartoon wasteland” where Disney’s forgotten and retired creations live….The game also features a disemboweled, robotic Donald Duck and a “twisted, broken, dangerous” version of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World.”

A disemboweled, robotic Donald Duck.

Walt is spinning in his cryogenic frozen grave.

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