Who can Mickey Mouse and company play with when he comes to Shanghai?
Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, or the Boonie Bears, perhaps?
“Who knows?” said Stanley Cheung, chairman of Disney Greater China, when asked if the popular Chinese cartoon characters will be introduced in Shanghai Disneyland which is expected to open in late 2015.
The Walt Disney Company “will operate as the Chinese Walt Disney Company” in China, Cheung said during a talk at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on the entertainment giant’s branding strategy.
The firm will “not just import famous cartoon characters but also tell Chinese stories in a Disney way”.
Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is probably China’s most popular and recognizable cartoon show while Boonie Bears is another animation series.
While China is one of Disney’s most important overseas markets, there is not much that is Chinese on its brand portfolio except for Mulan.
But Mulan, featured in an animation film 16 years ago, is obviously not enough to help Disney capture a sizeable chunk of the huge Chinese market.
Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf may be expected to fill the gap.
Cooperation between Disney and the Chinese creator of Pleasant Goat began about four years ago when the US firm was authorized to broadcast the Chinese television show. In 2011, the Chinese animation production firm Creative Power Entertaining allowed Disney to use the cartoon images in animation peripheral products.
But plans to have Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf join Disney’s family in Shanghai were first revealed last year by Robert Iger, Disney’s chief executive, in an interview with the Chinese website of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
The company may have been quietly testing the market.
In Hong Kong Disneyland, some visitors surprisingly found dolls and other products of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, with their new names Weslie and Wolffy, according to a report on China Review News in May 2013.
Many Chinese netizens said they would not accept Pleasant Goat in Disneyland as the Chinese cartoon is somewhat controversial for allegedly stealing plots from classic animations and carries a very different temperament compared with iconic Disney characters.
Concerns over rebranding Pleasant Goat for the Disney family may partly explain why there is no further information about the move since it was revealed last year.
But the report also said sales of Pleasant Goat dolls were good.
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