CBI Case Study: Disney’s “Year of Mickey” Campaign Goes High-End With Gucci Collaboration 

Ni Ni poses with Mickey in a campaign shot for Gucci’s latest collaboration with Disney

Disney is going all-in to merge Chinese cultural traditions with its valuable IP by promoting the upcoming Year of the Rat as the “Year of Mickey,” ushering in the Lunar New Year with extensive celebrations at its Shanghai theme park and reportedly licensing the character for more than 20,000 new Mickey-related products with a range of brands spanning the entire consumer spectrum.

Among the brand partnerships, Gucci’s latest collaboration stands out as the most extensive to date between the Italian fashion house and Disney’s cartoon empire. An 80-piece capsule collection includes dresses, jackets, shoes, purses, and luggage, many featuring a new, vintage-inspired print with an old-school Mickey image as part of the pattern.

Gucci and Disney have engaged in previous collaborations for the Chinese market, most notably last year’s “Three Little Pigs” collection to mark the Year of the Pig, though at 35 pieces, that collection was significantly smaller.

A campaign for the collection with actress and Gucci ambassador Ni Ni and others was shot at Disneyland by director Harmony Korine, and the products are available online, in select Gucci stores and at Gucci’s themed pop-up shops locations. Known as Gucci Pins, the pop-up stores are marked on the company’s store-finder maps with images of Mickey.

In China, Gucci has created a Year of Mickey mini program on WeChat and launched a Weibo campaign around the hashtag “celebrate a happy New Year with Gucci” (#跟古驰欢乐过年#), featuring top celebrities and influencers such as Xiao Zhan, Yang Mi, Ouyang Nana,  and many others casually sporting the collection and revealing locations of the Gucci Pins. Posts with the hashtag have been viewed 190 million times so far, generating nearly 9.5 million comments.

Short promotional films, including one by Korine, have also appeared on Weibo to showcase the collection. With lighthearted musical soundtracks, the videos show celebrities enjoying Disneyland’s rides and other attractions while modeling pieces from the Mickey collection interspersed with other Gucci items.

For Gucci, the collaboration fits well with its youth-oriented China strategy. China China’s Gen Z and millennial consumers have become the main drivers of luxury goods purchases in the country, and Gucci’s work with Weibo and Tencent are helping it connect with that audience. Its first Weibo livestream of a fashion show in September 2019 drew an estimated 16 million viewers. 

Disney’s far-reaching “Year of Mickey” will extend across the country with its brand collaborations across product categories from fast food to fast fashion. On the more casual sportswear end, Disney will enter the third year of partnership with domestic brand Li Ning that began with a co-branded collection for Mickey’s 90th anniversary in 2018. Cosmetics brands such as SK-II and Maybelline will also feature Mickey product collaborations for the Lunar New Year

Disney’s Shanghai theme park will receive a Mickey makeover during the holiday period with special Lunar New Year decor and activities from January 13 to February 9. The Mickey and Minnie characters will be clad in traditional Chinese robes and Goofy will play the role of God of Fortune. Special events for the Spring Festival include a nightly fireworks show with the holiday theme of families, festive dinner banquets and traditional craft activities such as paper-cutting and dumpling-making. To promote the Lunar New Year theme at the Shanghai park, Mickey is also being dispatched to tourist attractions in Shanghai and shopping centers around the country.