Friday, December 09, 2005

A bear of robust brand

My, Christopher Robin, you've changed
By Will Pavia

Winnie the Pooh’s owner just wasn't attractive enough, so Disney turned him into a 6-year-old girl

POOR Christopher Robin. For 80 years there has been an enchanted place on the top of the forest where a little boy and his bear would always be playing. But though Winnie the Pooh became a hugely successful brand, Christopher Robin just wouldn’t sell.

“There’s only one thing to be done,” said the executives at Disney, and replaced him with a six-year-old girl.

Among the frantic merchandising activities laid on to mark the 80th anniversary of Hundred Acre Wood, Disney has commissioned an animated series My Friends Tigger and Pooh.

The Bear of Very Little Brain will be more active and the characters first rendered by Ernest Shepherd will appear in 3-D computer animation in brighter colours.

But what is most likely to anger longtime Milne devotees is the arrival of the “tomboyish girl” in the role usually played by Christopher Robin.

Disney says that the series will target preschool children. “The young character will elicit physical, cognitive and emotional responses from the viewing audience and will also address them directly,” said a spokesman.

The series is an attempt to increase Disney’s share in the pre-school market, worth an estimated £11.9 billion, the company said this week. Industry observers consider the new character a clever move.

Thomas Ranese, of marketing consultants Interbrand, said: “Pooh appears to be a robust brand that can handle expansion.”

Now this is the sort of thing that can try the patience of even the most Americaphile Briton.


Duck said...

I suppose we'll see product placements in the series as well.

That's the problem with you Brits, you don't know how to maximize returns on your cultural portfolio. Now take the Royal Family. You're letting all that dysfunction go to waste when you could be packaging it in a reality based TV show.

Hey Skipper said...

I predict Pooh revisionism will sink like a greased safe.

Brit said...

The new Starbucks at Pooh Corner.

Susan's Husband said...

Gosh, better not tell The Wiggles about how (psuedo) British figures must be little girls in order to appeal to American little kids.