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RFIDs and MyMagic+ and Privacy, Oh My!

11 Jan

Over at StudiosCentral, my recent Jentasmic! columns have focused on the NextGen, newly-announced MyMagic+ initiative at Walt Disney World.

It’s interesting to watch the response to MyMagic+, both from the Disney fandom and from the press. Business writers generally zoom right into the moneymaker: Disney building an unprecedented database of Guest information, with implications for both privacy concerns and outstanding marketing opportunities. The fandom is mostly giddy for the new technologies, the new customization of Guest experience, and the convenience of wearing a MagicBand instead of carrying a card or two.

As a dues-paying member of the ACLU, which chimed in on tracking people with RFIDs years ago, I’m concerned about the privacy implications, primarily related to the inferences which can be drawn through data-mining (remember when a couple MIT students figured out how to mine Facebook data to determine whether a man was gay?).

And at the same time, I’m deep enough into Disney fanaticism that I’m likely to give the system a spin next time I travel to Walt Disney World. I’ll be interested to see how things go as MyMagic+ is gradually rolled out, and how much it changes from this point in response to Guest feedback and operational experience.

Jentasmic! on Limited Time Magic

19 Oct

Limited Time Magic! It sounds so, so . . . so much like legalese! So entirely unmagical, in fact, that I have a hard time believing it came out of Disney. But despite the lackluster name, I do like the concept. From this week’s Jentasmic! at StudiosCentral:

But now that I’ve got my bitterness out of the way. . . Oh man, I am loving the concept of this new promotion, which I’ll just refer to as LTM to contain my annoyance. As a regular Guest at Disney Parks, I like to plan my trips around special events, whether Disney-hosted (like Star Wars Weekends) or fan gatherings (like Reunion 2012 – be there or be square). I enjoy seeing special decorations, going to talks or shows that just aren’t offered every day, and yes even buying special merchandise that you can only get at a certain time. As much as I hate the phrase “limited time,” there is something special about things that are only available, well, for a very limited time.

Head on over to StudiosCentral to read the rest.

Marketing Fail: Princess Tiana for Watermelon Candy

7 Mar

From clutch:

This week’s failure at good common sense in product marketing comes courtesy of a batch of Disney princess-themed Valentine’s day candy that pairs Sleeping Beauty‘s Aurora with vanilla flavored sugary dipping dust and Tiana from The Princess and the Frog with the watermelon flavor.

Wondering why this is a problem? Colorlines and Sociological Images (warning: disturbingly racist imagery) have the scoop for you, far better than any explanation I could try to provide.

Disney Grumpy Over “Ho White”

16 Oct

Funny thing….Disney apparently didn’t like this rendition of Snow White, and has contacted the ad agency in question, according to The Register. Funnier still is that Grumpy still looks, well, grumpy.

I suppose one could try to argue that Snow White and the Dwarves aren’t really owned by Disney, as they come from the Kinder- und Hausmärchen. I doubt one would get too far with that, though, especially since these are obviously styled to look like the Disney rendition.

Hat tip to my friend Hayden, without whose Facebook feed this one would’ve gotten by me.

And hey, on the topic of strange Snow White-related entertainment…..I found myself searching out this YouTube clip today, courtesy of snowlowe2:

Gotta love that hat in the finale!

Jentasmic on “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day”

2 Oct

I’m loving the newly-announced 2010 Disney Parks promotion! And I was surprised to hear a whole lotta meh and some real hating when it was announced a couple days ago. Not surprisingly, I figured I’d get it out of my system through this week’s Jentasmic! column at A taste:

But really now, most Disney promotions are about supporting the brand that continues to support and attract Parks traffic, not directly driving new traffic into the Parks. People aren’t unaware of Disney World and Disneyland, they just need a little reminder. And the audience for these promotions isn’t the Disney Digerati, those who haunt messages boards and blogs and podcasts…..the audience is the casual Disney Guest, who might just need a little reminder to prompt them to consider Disney travel. And yes, that casual Disney Guest includes those hit hard by the recession. And I’m willing to bet that for some of them, especially those within a day-trip or with family they could stay with near the Park, this means a chance to spend a Disney Day with their family that simply wouldn’t otherwise be possible. Maybe this promotion is for them more than it is for us, the Disney geeks, the Annual Passholders, those with the luxury to visit at least once a year, and the determination to make it happen even when times are tight. (It’s certainly not designed to target a person like myself, who will likely be holding dual Passports for Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World by this December, and feeling a tad cranky about the lack of a Global Annual Pass.)

Disney Netpal Creeps Me Out!

19 Jun

You won’t be finding the Disney Netpal in my house. This week’s Jentasmic! tells you why. The bottom line?

Who could argue against parental controls that create a web-safe computing environment for kids? Not me, unless, well, that parental control system is designed by a corporation with a vested interest in making sure your kids are interested in their content, and theirs alone.

Celebration Vacations? No Thanks, Give Me Dreams

25 Sep

I just can’t get excited about Celebration Vacations, Disney’s 2009 marketing promotion. But I gotta tell ya, I bought 80 postcard stamps today.

Since about January, I’ve been sending in the postcard entries for Year of a Million Dreams. It’s strange how attached I’ve become to the daily ritual of hand-addressing my postcard and stopping by the mailbox.

I was actually about to give it up last week, after a third pair of Mickey Dream Ears had arrived in the mail. Because yes, I have indeed won some prizes in this sweepstakes. Two pairs of Dream Ears arrived on the day my son graduated from elementary school (a bigger day than I would have imagined), and this last pair arrived on a weary September afternoon, when perhaps I’d supervised one too many hours of homework.

I’ve also been lucky enough to win a few things in the Parks: A Dream Fast Pass at Disneyland, a couple trading pins, a couple of lanyards for my son and me at Magic Kingdom. And a bittersweet memory: The American Wishing Tale Dream, which we won just two days after my son had been through some unsettling medical tests (which, thank goodness, turned out just fine).

I know plenty of Disneyphiles are glad to see Year of a Million Dreams come to a close, after what will be more than two years and probably more than a couple million dreams. And I know a lot of people are frustrated that they didn’t win anything. Maybe it’s easy for me to like the promotion because I’ve won a number of prizes. But I’m not sure that’s the only reason I like the promotion. My favorite aspect of YOMD has not actually been the free lanyards, the Mickey Ears, or even the Mickey confetti on that table in the Liberty Inn. I feel the best part of the promotion has been the increased emphasis on Cast Member empowerment and responsibility to make a little extra magic here and there. At the start of this campaign, I wrote:

The success of the campaign over the long haul may depend in part on how well Disney continues to support its Cast Members in creating the magic, and in managing Guest expectations. Will the Cast Members burn out after month upon month of going beyond even their usual level of consistent cheerfulness? Have the Guests’ expectations been raised to an unreasonable level, and will there be backlash from those whose Dreams don’t come true? Already The Disney Blog has raised the question of whether low-level prizes are being awarded in a manner inconsistent with the rules (and perhaps in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act), and certainly plenty of Guests have been frustrated to be almost in the right place at the right time, as they watch Dreams awarded to others. But the casual, occasional Disney visitor probably isn’t paying enough attention to have their hopes raiesed as high, and it’s hard to imagine the Disney Faithful changing their park attendance patterns just because they didn’t get handed a free pin.

Year of a Million Dreams might well turn out to be a stroke of marketing genius, if Disney can keep it up. But the real heart of the Disney magic is the Cast Members who go above and beyond the call of duty to create those special moments for Guests. Our Segway-riding friend Chris didn’t need any special campaign backing him up to make our evening a little more magic, he just did. Let’s hope that Disney gives Chris and all his colleagues the support they need to keep that magic going.

As far as I’m concerned, that part of the YOMD doesn’t have to end.

So what about those stamps? Well, I honestly was starting to get sick of mailing the damn postcards. For the money I’ve spent on postcards and stamps, I surely could have bought myself three pairs of Mickey Ears, and gotten them embroidered to boot. But when I mentioned to my son that I wasn’t going to be sending the postcards anymore, he looked at me blankly, saying, “But Mom, you got us Mickey ears!”

Enough said.

WALL-E, Japanese Cell Phones, and Badtz-Maru Dancer

5 Sep

There’s something about this image that just screams “Blade Runner” to me…but maybe that’s because I was listening to 80’s Movie and Music Cafe chattering about that movie this morning….I think I need an evening on the couch reacquainting myself with that classic!

But I digress…this picture actually comes to us from Japan, via Pink Tentacle, which tells us about a new ad technology being tested on Japanese cell phones (which, as we all know, are frequently signs of what’s coming next, especially when those trendsetting schoolgirls get involved):

Japan’s first field test of “smart posters” using Near Field Communication (NFC) — a short-range high-frequency wireless communication technology that lets users view digital content simply by holding their compatible cellphones near the posters — is being conducted at a Chiba-area shopping mall, it was announced on September 2.

Major phone operator SoftBank Mobile, along with NTT Data, Hitachi and Dutch smart chip maker Gemalto, are testing the technology with WALL-E and Tinker Bell movie posters embedded with NFC tags.

Strangely enough, when I did a google image search for “softbank mobile tinker bell,” an unrelated image from my very own blog showed up. I guess I’m tired and spacey from too much fun last night (belly dancers! sword fights! all-girl Queen tribute band Gunpowder Gelatine!), but this picture makes me smile so much I just have to share it with you…it is a treasured memory from my 2002 trip to Sanrio Puroland.

Guess I need a research trip to Japan to check out those cell phone ads, look for Tinker Bell, and check out the current version of the Sanrio Puroland 3PM parade.

Why Does Minnie Have Less Storage Than Mickey?

21 Aug

No, I don’t have a coy little punchline about closet space. It’s just that an interesting marketing/design choice has been brought to my attention by the FairerScience blog:

Do you know about the A-DATA Disney mini COB (chip on board) flash memory Disk? No well, let me tell you about them. There are two– first there is the Minnie Mouse who is pink, holds 1 gig and sells for $9.99. Then of course there is Mickey Mouse who is, yup blue, stores 2 gigs and sells for $14.99.

What’s up with these design choices? Do the marketers think that girls (or their parents) wouldn’t pay the extra $5 for the extra gig of storage? Does Minnie’s excessive cuteness and wardrobe requirements leave less room for additional bytes?

I’m a feminist, a Disney freak, and a person who chews up disk space with a vengence. So, I don’t know whether I want to write a cranky letter, buy one of each, or do both.

High School Musical Photoshop Blunder

19 May

I just love the PhotoshopDisasters blog . . . they entertain me every ding-dong day! Today, my blogreader brought me this gem, which shows a bit more impalement and extra digits than one would have expected from the squeaky-clean HSM crew.

Apparently Disney found the problem, and fixed it in subsequent products. But that doesn’t make it any less funny.

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