Any Publicity is Good Publicity

Mary Poppins may appear all sweet and innocent on the outside, but underneath there is a dark story of stubbornness and discontent. But that doesn’t mean it is bad publicity!

Matt Lee & Lisa O'Hare - Step in Time

Mary Poppins is arguably one of the most beloved children’s movies in the Disney franchise. Rarely will you come across someone who hasn’t seen Julie Andrews’ articulate ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ or Dick van Dyke’s athletic ‘Chim-Chim-Cheree’. And the musical was a similar hit lasting for three years on the West End and seven years on Broadway.

But with the new movie Saving Mr. Banks, the dark story behind the movie has surfaced. Starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thomson as author P.L. Travers, the movie retraces the tense relationship between the two powerhouses. Showing that the author of Mary Poppins may not have been of the same jolly persuasion as her lead character while slightly rewriting the ending to create a famous Disney happily-ever-after (although that wasn’t the case in real life).

This interesting take on the Mary Poppins brand proves the old adage that ‘Any publicity is good publicity’.

The movie will no doubt receive a large amount of advertising across television and the internet closer to the opening date of January 9, but today it scored a double page spread in The Age. It takes a pretty powerful story to receive this kind of treatment from a national newspaper and is usually reserved for new developments in intriguing cold cases within the Sunday edition. So clearly this story has a wide appeal and will hold enough incentive for people to stop flicking through the paper and read the article.

However, there are more advantages to this story. Rather than ruin the fun-loving brand, this recent development actually allows the brand a new appeal to a new audience.

Maybe new audience is the wrong word.

While Mary Poppins appeals to young children, the brand can lose its appeal as each market gets older and starts to look for boundary-pushing entertainment. This alternate angle brings an edgier addition to the Mary Poppins brand which not only appeals to parents but contains appeal to other adults who haven’t been forced into multiple viewings of the musical. A bit like Wicked is to Wizard of Oz, Saving Mr. Banks is to Mary Poppins.

Plus, every person who has opened The Age today has been presented with a full-page colour spread on Mary Poppins brand featuring pictures from the original movie, musical and new movie. Regardless of whether they read the extensive article or just skimmed through the pictures, if you were to ask them to name a Disney film tonight, chances are it would be Mary Poppins.

Now that is good publicity!