What I Observed from the Release of “Let It Go”

by Ian Doescher


Disney’s Frozen came out just a few months ago. I haven’t seen it yet—my boys, stereotypically, aren’t crazy about the idea of going to what they consider a Disney princess movie. But I have a tangential connection to the movie: I went to college with Bobby Lopez, who, with his wife Kristen, wrote the songs for the movie.

Yes, those songs. The ones we (and especially our daughters) have been singing for the last two months, non-stop. I paid attention to Frozen and its hit song “Let It Go” because Bobby and Kristen had written the music. More than that, the song had been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. But even more than that, Bobby has already won an Emmy award, a Tony award and a Grammy, so if he won this Oscar he would have the coveted EGOT, something only eleven people up to that point in history had done.

But then the Golden Globe awards came, and U2 won Best Original Song for “Ordinary Love.” Uh-oh, I thought. Bobby’s chances of the EGOT seemed in great danger.

Then a remarkable thing happened: between the Golden Globes on January 2 and the Oscars on March 2, a huge campaign for “Let It Go” and Frozen was released (Frozen was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature). Here are a few tactics I noticed that I think any business can apply:

1. When you have a good product, make it as widely available as possible. Frozen and “Let It Go” were suddenly everywhere—the movie was fast-tracked for downloading and via DVD, so the movie (and the song) were essentially on repeat in living rooms across America. Disney released it faster than most movies go to video, because they wanted it to be on everyone’s minds.

2. When you have a good product, make more of it (and/or make many versions of it). Disney didn’t stop at the video release: suddenly they were releasing new videos of Frozen and “Let It Go” left and right, including a video of “Let It Go” sung in 25 different languages and a song about the making of Frozen (kind of). Disney wasn’t letting the song and the movie speak for themselves—they were pushing them as hard as possible.

3. When your fans start getting involved, embrace it. Suddenly, it wasn’t just Disney that was pushing “Let It Go,” it was everyone. A weatherman made a hilarious (and surprisingly well-sung) version of “Let It Go.” The comedy website Funny or Die made a compilation showing that “Let It Go” goes with just about any triumphant moment in a movie. Did Disney get upset and start screaming about copyright? No way! They shared these fan versions and embraced the buzz. As P.T. Barnum is reputed to have said, “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.”

The rest, as they say, is history. “Let It Go” took home the Oscar for Best Original Song, Frozen won for Best Animated Feature, and Bobby got his EGOT. Unbelievable—amazing. And helped by wise and effective marketing that recognizes the power of a good product. May your efforts be so successful!



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