An American mouse that celebrated its 80th birthday in November
is hoping to share the joy and cash in on the upcoming Chinese New
Just like Chinese children, who often wear new clothes with the
arrival of the new year, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, two of Walt
Disney's most beloved characters, will also be dressing up in new
Red, the color that symbolizes passion and fortune in Chinese
culture, is the main tone. Mickey wears a red coat with the Chinese
characters "wish you a rich year" written on it, while Minnie's
one-piece features another Chinese blessing: "blossoming
The new threads are part of a collection from Chinese-American
designer, Vivienne Tam, for the Year of the Mouse, Disney's
campaign to establish an emotional connection with increasingly
affluent Chinese consumers.
Disney sought the services of the Guangdong-born and Hong
Kong-raised designer because of her Chinese background as much as
her international reputation, says Stanley Cheung, executive
vice-president and managing director of Disney in Greater
"The designer we were looking for had to understand and respect
Chinese traditions and culture," he says.
The series' eight set of clothes all feature Mickey Mouse, the
Magic Kingdom's trademark character. The fabric is mainly Chinese
silk, red in color, and traditional cheongsam buttons are featured
in most designs.
"Disney has a long term commitment to China and respects and
understands the local culture," Cheung says.
Other than the new clothes, Chinese New Year elements are also
being highlighted at Hong Kong Disneyland. In the Dragon
Procession, Mickey and Minnie will greet visitors in their new
Chinese costumes, following the Chinese gods of fortune, health and
longevity, who give out gold coins.
At the same time, six Chinese singers will sing a theme song
specially composed to celebrate the New Year called Small Small
VIP. The music videos are to be filmed in Hong Kong Disneyland.
A series of consumer products featuring the Chinese New Year are
also hitting the market, such as Mickey and Minnie dolls in golden
garments worn by ancient Chinese kings and queens, as well as
Mickey-themed accessories designed by Hong Kong-based jewelry
The campaign is similar to the stamp Disney released early last
year using the Winnie the Pooh character, to celebrate the year of
the pig in 2007.
But in the year of the mouse, Cheung says Disney has for the
first time adopted multiple platforms for a Chinese campaign,
underlining the fact that the Chinese market is a priority in its
"Disney's platforms and products are all about story-telling.
And we feel that it is very easy to tell stories in China, because
Disney's values have much in common with Chinese traditions, such
as the importance of children and family, the respect for
traditions and aspiration for ideals," Cheung says.
(China Daily January 9, 2008)