Last week, there was a bit of news that was tangentially related to Frozen that reached me at a glacial pace, so I’m sharing it now. At this years Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway, Admiral Robert Papp, the U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic opened his remarks with an interesting anecdote. HE talked about how, because of his granddaughters, he’d seen Frozen at least twenty times and encouraged everyone present, or at least the few who hadn’t seen it, to check it out.
He then mentioned that a staffer, Arctic Policy Advisor Hillary LeBail, had pitched “a brilliant idea.” That idea? Approach Disney about a collaboration, using Frozen‘s stars to educate the public about climate change.
Papp scheduled a meeting with Disney executives coincident with an existing trip to California.
“I said, you’ve taught an entire generation about the Arctic. Unfortunately, the Arctic that you’ve taught them about is a fantasy kingdom in Norway where everything is nice. What we really need to do is educate the American youth about the plight of the polar bear, about the thawing tundra, about Alaskan villages that run the risk of falling into the sea because of the lack of sea ice protecting their shores.”
The executives responded about how you’d expect. Frozen is perhaps their biggest brand at the moment. And while the characters would certainly increase exposure and generate engagement, such a collaboration could negatively affect that brand. Still, the response pointed to a conclusion rather than a controversy.
‘Admiral, you might not understand, here at Disney it’s in our culture to tell stories that project optimism and have happy endings.’
Papp remains hopeful. If you’re interested, you can check out Papp’s address for yourself here, about forty five minutes in.