Barney’s Electric Holiday Backlash

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As November approaches and as I already see TV shows inundated with Christmas commercials, the Disney / Barney’s Electric Holiday partnership we talked about a few months back sprung to mind. In that announcement, we learned about a couple Vinylmation and other merchandise designed with a high fashion theme in mind.

For more on the Vinylmation and the product line itself, please check out Zoe’s article here. The reason I’m bringing this up today is because I decided to Google the line to see if i could find any updated information about the November 14 expected release date. I did not. Instead, what I did find, were a ton of columns from various blogs and news sites that talked about people’s negative reaction to this Minnie Mouse design that is used in the product line.
The critiques say this promotes an unfair version of the female form that can negatively impact a child’s self esteem. I sincerely do understand the concerns of parents, but the above is purely meant to be a fun art style giving Disney fan’s classic characters in forms they are not used to. It should not be pulled from the campaign as many suggest. It is a very creative and stylistic design that has many Disney fans excited for something new. And in fact, as Zoe brought to my attention when I showed her these articles, this is not something entirely new. Minnie has been characterized similar to this before. And the merchandise is sold at Disney Stores and Parks.
Here are some new images Disney/Barney’s released. They include scenes from the video the public will see on November 14. Disney and Barney’s felt they needed to show more about this ad campaign and put it all in context.


Closing scene from video
You can Google “Barney’s Electric Holiday Minnie” to see the opposition news articles I am talking about, but I wanted to post both Barney’s and Disney’s response to the critiques. It is a bit of a shame that they had to unveil the end of the November 14 video early just to try to quell some of the opposition.
From the Disney Post; The Official Blog of the Walt Disney Company:
(October 12, 2012) In August, we announced “Electric Holiday,” a project with Barneys New York. The one-time holiday promotion includes a moving art video that was designed to be a playful interpretation of the fashion world where Minnie Mouse briefly imagines what it would be like if she and her friends were a part of that high fashion world. The images shown during the brief dream sequence in the moving art video are highly stylized interpretations of these artistic characters. In the end, the video concludes with Minnie returning back to her classic self happily wearing a Lanvin designer dress.
We know many of our fans were intrigued with this news, and we wanted to give the behind-the-scenes story firsthand and provide insight into how we developed the creative concepts. I sat down with Luis Fernandez, senior vice president of global creative at Disney Consumer Products, to give us the scoop.
Nidia: Luis, we know that fans all over the world have an emotional connection to Disney characters. What can you tell Disney fans about how these stylized looks for “Electric Holiday” came to be?
Luis: “Electric Holiday” is a fun and colorful campaign that gave our character artists the creative liberty to do something artistic and completely unique. The elongated poses of Disney characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Goofy and Cruella de Vil, are dramatically stylized. They’re creative interpretations from a fashion lens, and only appear for a few seconds in this video. Their true form remains as classic as ever in every aspect of the company. A project like “Electric Holiday” is the kind of creative challenge which forces one to stretch the imagination while proceeding with caution. We know we have to be respectful of who these characters are and what they mean to us and to millions of people.
N: There is a scene in the moving art video when Minnie Mouse is transported into a fantasy world where literally anything is possible. Can you elaborate on that?
L: As we see Minnie gazing at a Paris travel poster, a dream sequence takes us into her mind – a fantasy world where she imagines herself as a fashion model on a Paris runway show, and we see her getting styled by the best in the fashion industry. Although Minnie is in her classic form for most of the piece, she does go through a dream portal at one point where she takes on this stylized fashion model form for just a few seconds. In the end, we see her happily back to her classic form still wearing her designer dress, designed by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin.
One of our more difficult challenges was bringing the two separate worlds of Disney and couture fashion together in a believable manner. Our solution was to have the characters pass through a magical portal as they step out onto the runway.
N: Sounds like a labor of love – a lot of passion, imagination and creative integrity went into the development process. What else is in store that fans can look forward to?
L: “Electric Holiday” will also feature a range of exclusive, limited-edition Disney holiday gifts that is just as magical as the creative itself and includes Vinylmation figures designed by Paul Smith and Diane von Furstenberg, Mickey Mouse ears designed by Rag & Bone and L’Wren Scott, and smaller items such as holiday ornaments, edible sweets, and much more. We also created original and exclusive artwork that will be featured on special Barneys shopping bags available with all in-store and purchases during the holiday season.
From The Window; Barney’s Official Blog:
The “Electric Holiday” campaign is to feature a video in which Minnie fantasizes about modeling in Paris.
Most of the video’s three minutes, Barneys has said, will show Minnie with her familiar proportions. But for a 5-second dream sequence on the catwalk, Minnie is stretched tall and thin because, as Barneys Creative Director Dennis Freedman initially explained, “The standard Minnie Mouse will not look so good in a Lanvin dress.” Mickey, Goofy, Daisy and other Disney characters will be refashioned similarly.
In August, Barneys New York announced Electric Holiday, a special holiday project with the Walt Disney Company. The one-time only holiday program includes a moving art video that is conceived to be a playful interpretation of the high fashion world, where Minnie Mouse briefly imagines what it would be like if she and her friends were a part of a European fashion show. The 3-minute video maintains Minnie in her classic self, aside from the brief dreamlike runway sequence. Our intention was to keep the end of the short a surprise until its release on November 14th, but we can reveal it ends happily with Minnie—in her classic form—wearing the same designer dress she models on the runway.
We assure you Minnie is empowered throughout the video, seen throughout Paris in her classic form being photographed by legendary fashion photographers, styled by renowned hair and makeup artists and dressed by a top fashion designer.
While it is unfortunate the sketches that were intended to be concept art have been taken out of context, Barneys New York is fully committed to the magical spirit of “Electric Holiday.” We stand by the statement released by Disney and Barneys New York and we are confident our lighthearted holiday project along with the video’s positive message will be embraced by not only the fashion world, but Disney fans alike.

About the author

Nick LoCicero

Nick LoCicero has almost 20 years experience in the media industry. He has worked on numerous Disney related media projects, most know at WDWNT for WDW News Tonight. He has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1982. After moving to Orlando in the late 90's he became a passholder, developed a fascination with the history of the vacation kingdom and has spent way too much money on park merchandise.