Marketing Disney Princesses to Boys

Or “Why Disney was smart to choose the name ‘Tangled’ instead of ‘Rapunzel.'”

I love going to the movies and I couldn’t wait until my sons were old enough (somewhere around the age of four) to join me. While this limited my choices to animated movies, my sons and I happily headed off to every major animated release the studios could crank out.

Bolt? Shrek the Third? Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa? Yes, please! Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Wouldn’t miss it! Ratatouille? WallE? Up?  Pixar rocks! Astroboy? Kung Fu Panda? Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs? Yes, yes, yes and we’ll buy the DVDs when they come out and watch them all a few times more.

How about The Princess and the Frog?



I was shocked when my then eight-year-old son told me that he didn’t want to see The Princess and the Frog. His six-year-old brother quickly agreed. Really? Why not? Apparently because it was a movie about a princess and therefore a girl’s movie.


Taking a look at the trailer I could kind of see their point.

Fast forward one year to Disney’s next release. Another movie about a princess — Rapunzel (she of the ‘throw down your hair’ fame). Disney made a movie about a princess but you wouldn’t know it from the trailer or the title. Someone was smart enough not to put ‘princess’ in the title and watching the trailer (below) you can see how Disney catered to the ‘boy’ demographic.

My sons and I saw Tangled on its opening weekend bringing along their two female cousins and two of their male friends. Six kids between the ages of six and ten. The verdict? They all loved it.

As it turns out, that same night I had five of those same six kids in our house watching The Princess and the Frog — recorded on the DVR. They all liked it, but when asked, Tangled was the clear favorite.

Was The Princess and the Frog’s problem the movie itself or Disney’s marketing of it? Comparing opening weekends, Tangled (~$48M) brought in twice as much money as The Princess and the Frog (~$24M) and is on pace to make twice as much money at the box office. So perhaps it was both the marketing and the movie.

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