Brands Spotted: 0 (if you don't count Scotland)
Standout Placement: N/A
Most Memorable Placement (positive): N/A
Most Memorable Placement (negative): N/A
Overall Product Placement Integration Grade (1-10): N/A
Comments: Some critics have called Brave, Disney/Pixar's new film, formulaic. It's an easy conclusion to reach. The idea behind Brave appears to be taking the popularity of young women archers (cue The Hunger Games, and already a Brave-themed attraction at Disney Parks), pinching some themes from other recent popular franchises (How to Train Your Dragon, Shrek), updating the Disney Princess juggernaut, and wrapping the whole thing in the aura of an earlier epic Scottish tale of bravery (Braveheart*). But Brave's guts aren't the only formulaic element of the film.
Its very title continues a Pixar film naming formula that is as understandable as it is vexing, and may be creating unnecessary headaches for the studio and confusion for audiences. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a "seemingly naive trademark examiner" is at the center of a year-long trademark battle between Disney Pixar and professional baseball team The Atlanta Braves over ownership of the mark "brave." It seems that the argument, oddly over foodstuffs which included the terms "meat, fish, poultry or vegetables," may soon be resolved by the team and the studio.
What remains in question is why Pixar continues to employ the kind of general approach when it comes to naming its films. Up, Cars, Toy Story and, now, Brave all utilize titles so generic and simple that they invite trademark problems.
Indeed, just last year Pixar found itself on the working end of a lawsuit from a screenwriter claiming he had copyright to a world of talking cars. The detail that stands out as particularly painful against Pixar is that one of his screenplays was also titled "Cars." Meanwhile, what kind of brouhaha would have erupted between Newt Gingrich and Pixar if the studio had not cancelled its 2012 film "Newt?" A Cars spin-off that Pixar is going ahead with, meanwhile, is titled "Planes."
Inviting IP rights and marks legal disputes isn't the only downside of using such basic titles.
According to the Internet Movie Database, there have been three other movies with the exact title Brave. One Pakistani, one Thai and one 1994 American one about "A runaway girl is interviewed by a psychiatrist after a suicide attempt."
Titles as generic and common as Cars and Brave are difficult to protect, so why does Pixar continue to do it? The studio has proven itself quite adept at titling films with memorable names that are highly unique, including Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and Wall-E.
Of course, Brave is intended to be a global hit with girls. But thanks to its general name, Brave may cause confusion in foreign countries. For example, the 2010 remake of True Grit was titled The Brave when it screened in Korean theaters.
Brave's original title was The Bear and the Bow and the film came by its final title in a bit of reverse procedure. As a Pixar spokesperson clarified three years ago, Brave was simply Pixar's internal working title for The Bear and the Bow. This is something Pixar has done for some time. For example, while in production, Ratatouille was simply known as "Rat."
But then, a year later, Disney began snapping up trademarks for Brave. One possibility is that the name change came as a package deal. At the same time Brave was renamed in 2010, Disney was struggling with the name of its studio's final princess film. Originally titled Rapunzel, Disney worried that the name would not appeal to boys. In the end, it went with Tangled.
It certainly isn't a stretch to imagine that, at that same time, Disney looked at what it had in the pipeline, saw another princess film, and deduced to title it likewise. ("Brave" is certainly gender-neutral.)
Brave is formulaic on one more level. It represents Pixar's first film under Disney that is explicitly aimed at expanding Disney's billion dollar Disney Princess girl licensing and merchandising branded bonanza.
Look for the star of Brave, Princess Merida, to add a little redheadedness to the ranks alongside Snow White, Ariel, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Tiana and Mulan and more with merchandise that includes dolls, bedspreads, candy, dresses, lollipops, purses, swimwear, hoodies, pillowcases, backpacks, jewelry boxes, posters, hair clips, shoes, laundry baskets, night lights, tote bags, stamp sets, LCD alarm clocks, bibs, scooters, TV/DVD combo units, water bottles, Christmas ornaments, Halloween costumes, sunglasses, flip-flops, iPhone cases, nesting dolls, "Little Girls' Princess Panties," and, naturally, snow globes.
Also, while Brave doesn't contain any identifiable products or "brands," its marketing partners cooking up movie tie-ins for cross-promotion include not only Subway but also Scotland, the setting for the flame-haired flick, in a place-branding tourism cross-promotion. The national tourism board for "Scotland the Brave" is promoting a "Visit Scotland" contest, and content tie-ins promoting Wild Scotland and the National Trust network of historic sites.
In the lead-up to the movie's June 22nd release, Disney engineered a spot pegged to the NFL Draft and another teasing the Summer Olympic Games, where archery is one of the competitions:
And in the tradition of other tongue-in-cheek mock online ads such as those created for Tangled, Disney's marketing department came up with this faux commercial for "Kilt" by Ruff McLauren:
* A bit of trivia, one of the titles considered for Brave at one time was, yes, "Bravehair."
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