Lessons from Frozen: A Wintry Mix (Sorry) of Uniqueness and Relatability

???????????????????????????????I was with my four-year-old niece at a restaurant helping her dispense soft-serve ice cream into a bowl and trying to impress her with my expert ice cream swirl skills. “Look, Evie! It’s an ice cream mountain.”

“It’s Elsa’s mountain,” she said.

The next night, we were headed out to dinner (when my family visits, we eat out a lot), and the pleas from the backseat cemented what we’d be listening to on our way to the restaurant.

“Mom, can we listen to Frozen? ‘The snow glows white on the mountain tonight’?”

Soon, Idina’s powerful voice was belting out through the car speakers, accompanied by my niece, my nephew and ME, because I couldn’t help myself. (I feel like I could give Adele Dazeem a run for her money. KIDDING, of course.)

The movie has amassed over $1 billion dollars in box office sales since its opening, and according to The New York Times, “Disney estimates that Frozen brought in more than $1 billion in retail revenue over the last year.”

Frozen sticks with kids. It’s on their minds. Slap an Olaf or an Elsa on something as mundane as a toilet seat, and they want it. And who are we kidding? Children aren’t the only ones who are obsessed (heck, I’m writing a blog post about it). Google the “psychology of Frozen,” and you’ll get a myriad of returns: Discussions, studies and articles about why this movie is such a hit. I’m wondering what we can learn about content marketing from this motley crew of two princesses, a jerk prince, a quirky iceman and a silly snowman. Two things strike me:

  1. As far as Disney Princess movies go, it’s unique in its emphasis on true, sacrificial love between sisters, as opposed to the movie’s male love interests. Romance works, of course, but what about the raw bonds of familial love? My colleague Sally recently wrote about the temptation to post for numbers as opposed to maintaining originality. She says: “As content marketers, we KNOW theoretically that good content has a unique voice. It offers something new and different. But when we’re faced with website traffic goals and advertising concerns, it’s so tempting to fall into the trap of “This works for other sites . . .  Let’s plug in a slightly different set of variables and surely it’ll work for us! I mean look at BuzzFeed’s numbers!” And perhaps you will occasionally get higher numbers if you employ a bit of formulaic pandering. But do you want to create something that’s personal, relevant and memorable? Then resist the urge to jump on the bland gif-response bandwagon. Refrain from posting yet another insipid “10 Things Content Marketers in Their Early 30s with Pets Know to Be True” article unless you truly have 10 insightful items to share. And don’t mention bacon unless you’re employed by a meat curing facility.” (Go read her whole post because it’s great.) Originality and uniqueness take time and work, but the end result is worth the effort.
  2. Secondly, I do think the movie is relatable. Not the princess/kingdom part (but wouldn’t we all want to be Norwegian royalty, forever galavanting in the fjords the rest of our lives?), but rather the characters’ layered personalities, the occasional sibling discord and its resulting unity, the frustrations and fears of Elsa and the hopes of Anna (also, how she looks when she wakes up in the morning). Compare the lyrics of “Once Upon a Dream” from “Sleeping Beauty”—“You’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream”—to that catchy number the trolls sing about how people don’t really change, but love accepts flaws, quirks and other imperfections. Ahhh. I like the sound of that much better. We can churn out content all we want, but how thoughtful are we toward our audience? How helpful are we trying to be? Relating to other people is what we should strive for, both professionally and personally, because without a human connection of any kind, what’s the point?

I want to watch the movie now, and if I don’t do something about it soon, “Let It Go” will be stuck in my head all day. Which, I will not lie, I’d be OK with.

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Jeanne PetrizzoWriter/Editor

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