Mickey’s Marketing Magic

“...it all started with a mouse.” This year marks the 90th birthday of the magically memorable mouse named Mickey. It’s hard to imagine there ever was a time before him, but that just goes to show how powerful a presence and how much of an important part of our lives he’s become.

There’s a lot to be learned from Mickey, especially when it comes to the power of emotional storytelling. It’s what we like to call Mickey’s Marketing Magic, and it transcends time.

He’ll Entertain You

Mickey’s popularity is rooted in Disney’s ability to associate Mickey Mouse with sheer entertainment. Ever since his appearance in 1928’s animated Steamboat Willie, there’s been a wholesome and joyous quality of entertainment that inspires participation. Through television programs, comic strips, theme parks, social media, and various consumer products, Mickey Mouse begs for interaction and conversation.

He’s Innovative, but Honors Tradition

As the first cartoon with synchronized sound, Steamboat Willie was a technological marvel of its time. Walt Disney was a firm believer in innovative technologies, and for the most part, Disney has married the nostalgia of classic and memorable character while driving and adapting to new technology. Fast Company Senior writer Austin Carr captures just how this separates Disney from its competitors:

What separates Disney from other competitors in the space is that is has both continued to innovate over many decades and never grown stagnant, but its also kept that key nostalgia that brings parents back with their kids, back with their grandkids, and so forth, so they can connect over a shared experience they had when they were growing up.”

Mickey’s image is instantly recognizable whether it’s steering the ship in Steamboat Willie or appearing on sprays of water shot into the air as host of Disney California Adventure’s innovative and breathtaking “World of Color” show.

He’s Trendy, and Collaborative

Disney’s ability to monetize Mickey Mouse through consumer products is, in a word, genius. In honor of his 90th birthday, Mickey has collaborated with H&M, Opening Ceremony, Colourpop, Nixon, Toms, Uniqlo, Melissa, Cath Kidston, Singapore Jeweler Poh Heng, and more. And that’s just in 2018. Disney earned over $5 billion in revenue from consumer products in 2017. Designer collaborations keep the icon fresh and always on-trend.

He’s Inspiring

Mickey’s Ten Commandments, created for Disney Parks and Resorts’ Imagineers, are strikingly applicable to any marketer looking to connect with and thrill their audience.

1. Know your audience.

2. Wear your Guest’s shoes.

3. Organize the flow of people and ideas.

4. Create a wienie (visual magnet).

5. Communicate with visual literacy.

6. Avoid overload – create turn ons

7. Tell one story at a time.

8. Avoid contradictions – maintain identity.

9. For every ounce of treatment, provide a ton of treat.

10. Keep it up! (maintain it).

Mickey is a marketing marvel, and an inspiration to consumers and businesspeople alike. His ability to timelessly blend tradition and technology in a fiercely entertaining way is unmistakable and unmatchable. We remember and love Mickey on his birthday, and will for decades to come. Oh boy!


Rachael Doukas