Drawing Heavily on China

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA – The Disney feature film Mulan, provides the theme for a new Web site sweepstakes that offers hundreds of prizes, including a $500 gift certificate to the Disney Store, The Art of Mulan collectors-edition book, plus an array of collectable Mulan merchandise.

For its animated film (and in building the interactive site), the Disney animation team relied heavily on the 2,000-year-old chronicle of Mulan, a daring young Chinese woman, who, dressed as a man, saves her country, and her father in a bold and selfless act of courage on the battlefield.

She is aided in her adventures by Mushu, the crotchety, hilarious fire-breathing dragon and a stout-hearted cricket named Cri-Kee.

Disney animation artists, using the cultural icons of ancient China, have placed an interactive version of Cri-Kee on the Web site (www.Mulan.com) along with five interactive Web-exclusive stories featuring Mushu, the clumsy but well-meaning dragon. Sweepstakes contestants can welcome Cri-Kee to their computer desktop, where they can feed him, play with him, and watch him grow. They can also download Mushu who claims free reign of the computer screen and will do about anything to capture the user’s attention.

The site also features a collection of brain teasers and an arcade-style battle game that pits the player against the army of marauding Huns. There are also downloading music clips, an online coloring book for young visitors, as well as the online Mulan story book.Divided into five sections – flow er, mountain, thunder, dragon and garden, the Mulan site reflects the ancient world of Chinese culture, yet uses the Web sites to make users a part of the drama.

Fans can e-mail special Mulan Chinese fans (fan mail) decorated with characters from the film to friends via the Internet.

The film opened in theaters last month, with the voice of Eddie Murphy as Mushu and the talents of Pat Morita and June Foray. Ming-Na-Wen plays Mulan.

CHICAGO – CoolSavings, a leader in Internet couponing, has just received a U.S. patent for its online couponing service designed to protect customer anonymity.

Filed in 1995, the CoolSavings patent is believed to be among the first issued for a fully functional Web site that the company says has the Internet’s largest registered database of coupon-responsive consumers.

Launched in 1997, CoolSavings clients include more than 30 national advertisers including J.C. Penny, Kmart, Toys R Us, Barnes and Noble, National Car Rental, and Pearle Vision.

In the last year, CoolSavings has registered more than 900,000 shoppers, a number expected to swell to 1.5 million by September.

“The patent protection will significantly enhance our position as the top provider of targeted Internet coupons,” says Steven M. Golden, the company’s chairman and ceo.

OFF THE MARK www.target.com Parent company Dayton Hudson obviously designed retail chain Target’s Web site with the discounter’s customers in mind. Virtual postcards, links for kids, a bridal registry, charge card applications – nice, but where the heck is the merchandise? The whole point is to sell, to eventually MAKE MONEY. There’s a hyperlink to Camp Target and a descriptive, informative blurb explaining the difference between regular Target and SuperTarget, but for cybersurfers looking to be cybershoppers – not gonna happen here.

Overall: B- Look: C Content:B User Friendliness:B

STOMACH ACHE www.hormel.com The site is okay, but it takes too many clicks to get to the meat (or in Hormel’s case, something that resembles meat). I understand the objective (build a homepage that can satisfy both consumer and corporate needs), but come on, when it comes to the Internet and package goods manufacturers, shoot for the consumer first, and the Wall Street suit second. Some good ol’ boy in Arkansas looking to get a new way to zest up his hot dog would be lost when presented with company career opportunities, but the analyst looking up some corporate report will dig the recipe for Pear and Turkey Pepperoni Crostini (sounds … de-lish). There are good things here, but they should all be easier to reach.

Overall: C- Look: C+ Content:B User Friendliness:B-

A LITTLE SPLASH’LL DO YA www.oldspice.com Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice hops on the “extreme” bandwagon and unloads a bevy of hardcore athleticism on its site, tagged “Destinations from Old Spice.” The homepage proves just as manly (the site is so gender specific I’m surprised there aren’t banner ads for Trojan or Rogaine) as the actual product does. The Exhilaration link serves a menu of sports choices – to virtual skiing, mountain climbing, surfing, or skateboarding. The Challenge link takes visitors to case studies of adventures, and a game lets players judge whether such stories are true or false. Other links on the site are just as mildly entertaining. Not a slam dunk, but Danny likes.

Overall: B+ Look: B+ Content:B User Friendliness:A

RUBBER CHICKEN www.ranch1.com What did you just say? That I’m too nice? Okay, then roll up your sleeves, sucka. They may have the world’s greatest grilled chicken sandwich (I’m more of an Arby’s man myself … that’s a story for another time), but this Web site looks like it was designed by a dyslexic nine-year-old. My corneas popped off my eyes and ran down the hall screaming when the electric yellow background sprung up on my monitor. Once I adjusted, I scrolled down, read the mission statement,saw a few pictures, read a company profile, and yawned as I scanned the Ranch 1 executive roster. I woke up a few minutes later and went to check out the rest of the homepage. Then I realized: I had just seen the ENTIRE thing. Cluck Cluck, this thing’s a dog.

Overall: F Look: G Content:F User Friendliness:D

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