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Whose Brand Is It Anyway?


The Bs are writers and art directors, designers and illustrators. In our hearts, we're also direct marketers (duh — that's why "Direct" is in our name). But, that doesn't mean we don't appreciate brand. In fact, we've helped many clients over the years build and grow their brands. We've worked with start-ups to develop branding (positioning, logos, identity systems, brand guidelines). And we've supported more established companies by ensuring that everything we develop adheres to or complements the brand.

We've also learned how to play nice with the brand police. In recent years and past lives, we've worked with big players like IBM, Apple, Chevrolet, Bank of America, and NYNEX, as well as the strictest brand keepers of all: Disney.

Take our word for it, you don't mess around with Mickey!

So, the first question we had when we heard about the TikTok phenomenon Ratatouille: The Musical was ... "What is Disney going to do about it?"

Before we answer that, let's give you a bit of background.

Last summer, a TikTok user named Emily Jacobsen created a simple song about Remy, the rodent hero of Disney's 2007 animated movie Ratatouille. Another user, Daniel Mertzlufft expanded upon it, adding instrumentals and a chorus. Soon, there were hundreds of TikTok'ers involved, writing more songs and scenes, choreographing numbers, designing sets and costumes. Some were truly awful, some hilariously funny, some bordered on genius.

As marketers, we kept waiting for Disney to issue a "cease and desist" to all of Gen Z. But, they never did.

The momentum on TikTok was — if not bigger than Disney — certainly bigger than Ratatouille.

Then something remarkable happened. In a year when live theatre has all but disappeared, some professional theatre people recognized the power and promise in the crowdsourced Ratatouille: The Musical. It was produced (albeit virtually), working with material from Jacobsen, Mertzlufft, and a host of other TikTok creators. A star-studded cast, featuring Tituss Burgess, Adam Lambert, Wayne Brady, Andrew Barth Feldman, Ashley Park, Kevin Chamberlin, and other (all with serious Broadway credentials) performed it. And it was available to stream for 72 hours over New Year's weekend. Proceeds benefited The Actor's Fund. And, here's what's amazing ...

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical raised more than $1.5 million.

Here's what else was amazing ...

The house of mouse, that penultimate keeper of brands, had this to say: "While Disney does not have development plans for the title, we are excited to see fans engage with Disney stories, and applaud and thank all of the online theatre makers whose work on Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical will benefit The Actor's Fund."

Smart brands (and we definitely count Disney among them) realize that in the world of social media, anything makes the customer love you even more is "on brand."

All we can say is way to go, Mickey! (Then again, who knows? Remy may be a relation.)


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