When It Comes to Criticism, Disney’s All Ears


The Walt Disney Company shuttered its Habit Heroes interactive exhibit at Epcot after an advocacy group claimed that it shamed obese children. Although Disney was swift in its reaction to the groundswell of criticism, in hindsight, a more effective measure might have been to communicate with advocacy groups while the exhibit was still in development.

Disney created the exhibit in collaboration with health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield. Animated characters lead visitors in a fight against villains who represent bad habits such as eating junk food and watching too much television, according to the Orlando Sentinel. It was soft launched in February 2011 in order “to collect guest feedback and test and adjust the attraction prior to its opening,” said Blue Cross spokesperson John W. Herbkersman in a statement.

Adjustments are exactly what the attraction will need following negative responses from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA), which decried the exhibit’s use of large-bodied characters as the only ones who participated in unhealthy activities. “It appears that Disney now believes the tool of shame, favored so much by today’s healthcare organizations, is the best way to communicate with children,” said NAAFA in a statement.

In reaction, Disney and Blue Cross have shut down the exhibit and its Web site and pushed back the official March 5 opening. “That’s why we have a soft opening. So we can open it up to others and listen. We’ve heard the feedback,” said Disney spokeswoman Kathleen Prihoda to the Sentinel.

To their credit, Disney and Blue Cross have the right idea in being open to feedback. The sensitive nature of this kind of social issue, though, demands outreach before a so-called soft launch which, in the age of social media, might as well be a parade down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

Follow Sahil Patel: @sizpatel
 




Comments Off

Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Social Media 20/20 Summit

PRN_summit_ads_175x135_ep

This gathering will feature some key influencers and operators in social media, sharing their knowledge and experience in a full day of eye-opening sessions. You will take away practical knowledge to increase the visibility of your brand and expand its reach on social media.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook

book-mediarelations-180x150

This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.

Comments are closed.