90: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICKEY MOUSE!
“Everybody at the company around the world feels that they own Mickey a little bit. It’s a good problem to have because it means everybody is invested in Mickey.”
Filipinos have their own long-lasting affection for all things Disney as they grow, almost as if it is a birthright. But it is Mickey who exemplifies this. Almost all of us have childhood photographs where we are wearing a Mickey T-shirt or are holding a Mickey toy, something repeated in the photographs of our children or grandchildren doing the same.
There’s reason for that, too. “Mickey is plucky, charming, funny and not afraid to break the rules,” Jones explained. “People around the world, including the Philippines, see themselves in Mickey. He is an every person character.”
Disney made sure that Mickey’s 90th birthday this year would be an occasion unlike any other, with events in every country. “We wanted this to be the biggest celebration for Mickey,” Jones said. “We have rallied the entire company. We have rallied the entire globe. It is really something I’ve never seen before. This is one of those celebrations that everybody wants to be part of. We’ve had amazing local activations in every market and these are able to amplify what we’re doing globally and make it so that more people can be part of it.”
The Philippines has its own share of Mickey birthday events worthy of the country’s love for the mouse. Retail giant SM partnered with Disney on the “Share-A-Smile” promotion, with all kinds of Mickey-themed goodies. Uniqlo opened its flagship store in the Philippines at Glorietta 5 in Makati with an exclusive Mickey Mouse T-shirt collection with art by the iconic Andy Warhol.
Mickey is also being celebrated in a stylish way as cutting-edge design school SoFA Design Institute and Disney launched “The Mickey Fashion Design Challenge,” with 10 student finalists boasting the best Mickey-designed pieces. The 10 chosen designers will have their work showcased at a fashion show at the Ayala Triangle in Makati on Nov. 18, with the three grand winners being announced then and there.
Finally, get ready to see Manila lit up by Mickey as Disney collaborates with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority with Mickey-inspired traffic lights appearing all over the Metro just in time to light up the holiday season. When you walk down the street or drive up the avenues, you will be lit by the changing lights of Mickey, perhaps the ultimate hidden Mickey.
And 90 may just be the beginning for Mickey as there is more planned for the mouse in the future. Next year, the first ever theme park attraction featuring Mickey and Minnie opens in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This is just one taste of what awaits Mickey and those who love him.
“While Mickey’s personality has never changed over 90 years, the different ways we share Mickey and the ways Mickey shares his storytelling has evolved with the time. That is something that will continue to happen,” Jones said, explaining how Mickey evolved from the animated movie screen to the comic book page and then made the jump to the television screen and now can be found in apps. This is how Mickey has achieved true ubiquity as he turns 90, but this is as much about evolution as it is about the hopeful essence of Mickey Mouse. “Mickey is able to come to life in all of these new platforms and I think that is just going to continue to happen. But it is always and will always be the same Mickey.”