The Magic of Frozen & Why it’s here to stay

If you think of dessert when I say the word “Frozen”, then you’ve either been hibernating for the last 18 months or you have literally avoided any kind of advertising, shopping or conversations involving children. It’s high time you are enlightened, because for the rest of us, we know Frozen to be the Disney hit released a little over 15 months ago in November of 2013 and now the highest grossing animated film and fifth highest grossing film of all time.

With almost $1.3 billion in box office sales, over $1.0 billion in annual merchandise revenue sold in 2014 and a platinum album, the movie has won Grammys, Golden Globes and Oscars. Frozen is hot with no signs thus far of slowing down.

How did they do it?

In a shareholder conference, Disney announced a 27% increase in total profits, largely in part to the movie. We know Disney is a business and that’s ok. The fact that they profit from making people happy in some ways is kind of nice. It’s also kind of scary. This has gone beyond commercially successful to absolute mania.

But how have they capitalised on the success of this movie so well and why is it still working over one year on? For the first time in 10 years, Barbie was dethroned (by Frozen of course) as the number one Christmas item for girls.

Here’s what I think we can learn.

1. The product must be good

There’s no denying it, the movie is quite good. But is that enough to warrant such success? There are a number of good movies out there. For the first time, Disney made a movie with a different slant towards sisterhood as the primary romance and I think this struck a unique chord in the hearts of girls around the world. We saw a flawed but strong princess and a couple of heroines who showed strength. Add to it the kind of songs that have longevity to them and the Disney magic emotion and you get the formula for something different, something that could stand out. Well, it did.

2. Disney helped its raving fan base relive the moments

Seeing the movie once or twice is nice but what you need is buzz, and that’s what Disney helped cultivate. What Disney did was provide outlets and experiences for girls around the world to relive the magic of the film through a number of mechanisms. Their theme parks, sing-a-long videos, a soundtrack, events in major cities, re-release DVDs, merchandise overload and an array of strategically positioned content online to re-engage the fan base and immerse them again.

3. Partnership spreads the word

With blockbuster attention and millions of people wanting more, Disney has learned the power of partnerships with companies like Mattel licensing the dolls and in effect helping them spread the word. This helps reinforce the buzz when girls see Frozen merchandise on every shelf.

4. Don’t “Let it Go”

The kids love Frozen but Disney is a distribution network and they have the eyes and ears of children worldwide. “They know how to leverage property in more ways than just about any company,” says Jessica Reif Cohen, a media analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Disney is planning. Frozen is franchise material and over the coming years, they intend to maximise the hype and earnings they can build around it. Plans include theme park rides and lands, Disney on Ice special, a Broadway show (think of how long Lion King has gone for), cameos in network cartoons and a short film extension to be released at Easter.

Expect a sequel? You bet.