Here, Disney’s Mickey Mouse is transformed to take on the Chinese culture.
Mickey Mouse became an icon in the US with the introduction of Walt Disney and the Disney Company. Mickey Mouse is the official mascot for the company when it was created in 1929. He wears red shorts, large yellow shows, and has white gloves. In fact, Mickey’s character became official in 1928 with the screening of the film Steamboat Willie This career skyrocketed as he appears in over 130 films. The character became a well-known icon for children and even adults as Mickey is known not only as the mascot for Disney, but an icon for play, entertainment, and fun.
Outside the U.S, Mickey is also a symbol for the Disney network. More specifically, in China, Mickey has completely been adapted and localized to fit the Chinese culture. Disney is rising in the Chinese culture, in particular with the introduction of a new Disney theme park in Shanghai. Recently actually, in April the Chinese has formed a joint venture in investing in the upcoming resort and park and has added a $800 million investment in it. This shows not only Disney’s popularity, but China’s growing entertainment market, especially in regards to the media. This park is supposed to open in 2015. Currently, there is already a theme park in Hong Kong, showing its popularity through expanding into another city. As far as the US response to this, the company in general is thrilled with this expansion as it still holds 43 percent ownership of the brand abroad. It is pretty obvious why the US would be in favor of this growth because it supports their business; expansion equates to profit increase.
As seen in the picture, Chinese Mickey is not wearing the traditional US clothing, but appears to appeal more to the traditional Chinese culture with his style. What stays the same however, is the white gloves; keeping up with Mickey’s typical image that is well known around the world; adding to the iconography of Mickey Mouse. This is a key example of localization in the global media market realm where something abroad is adapted to a local market. From a capitalistic standpoint this is very clever for corporations and conglomerates as business strategy. By pairing up with local market, both the local market and the global market gets to expand. From a business standpoint, both the Chinese market as well as the US market benefit from Disney reaching out the other areas of the world. Making an icon stretch its lengths in the world allows for more brand recognition. Thus, Mickey Mouse is being used as a business and marketing tool for the broader company here.
I am not sure what would have been more fitting instead of the U.S icon, as Mickey is the universal symbol for Disney. Say China completely made a new character in order to promote the company abroad, that would have completely taken away from the company and it is safe to say that Walt Disney would not have agreed to that for ownership.