Why is Disney leaving Christmas off its MVMCP ads?


In billboards in town and on its digital marketing ads, Disney has decided to leave the word “Christmas” off its promotions for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This has raised the eyebrows of more than a few.

If the official name of the event is still “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party,” and it is, why would you market it as something else? There’s no excuse not to use the world Christmas to advertise a Christmas party. It’s not like people are going to buy a ticket for Mickey’s Very Merry Party after seeing Mickey on a giant ornament on a sleigh and then show up and be surprised that Christmas decorations have taken over the Magic Kingdom.

Maybe it is a great idea to have a non-denominational holiday party. Hold a ‘Winter Fest” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom where the changing of the seasons is celebrated. Add Disney characters dressed in internationally flavored winter attire and spread them throughout EPCOT for a Holidays around the World event. I’m sure there’s a thick folder full of ideas somewhere in the stuffy back halls of Team Disney Orlando.

I’m 100% in favor of Disney being more inclusive in their hiring, marketing, contracting, and especially their storytelling (Aside: Big Hero 6 is a very diverse movie, Disney’s most.). But the keyword there is more, not less. You don’t cut the word Christmas out of your marketing and suddenly become more inclusive. You do it by actually being more inclusive, celebrating additional holidays, recognizing there are other cultures out there as valid and (often) more ancient than your own.

The only legitimate excuse I can possibly think of is that someone in Disney marketing read some study somewhere that says shorter messages are more powerful and any words that can be cut from your promotional copy should be. If the “feel” of Christmas is communicated from the billboard, leaving the word off the copy will do no harm. Same idea for mobile ads, I guess.

If you ask me, I’ll tell you I’m the exact opposite of religious, but even I like to celebrate Christmas. It has lost most of its religious meaning (both its pagan origins and Christian adoption) giving way to a holiday spirit focused on family and giving. I’m okay with that. Plus who doesn’t like pretty trees and buildings with sparkly lights, warm cocoa, and presents. Come on.

What are your thoughts? Am I over-reacting or is Disney?

23 thoughts on “Why is Disney leaving Christmas off its MVMCP ads?”

  1. Next up – Mickey’s Not So Scary Late October Party. Not to be confused with any holiday that may or may not be observed at or about the same time.

  2. Weird.
    You’re spot-on when you say you don’t become more inclusive simply by cutting the word Christmas. Inclusivity means being open to more, not less.
    I can only think though and hope like you said, that this ‘edited version’ is for use only where words are at a premium, like tiny banners on webpages, etc. Even if that’s true though, I’d cut ‘very merry’ before I do ‘Christmas’.
    “Mickey’s Christmas Party” doesn’t say ‘religious’ to me, it says christmas trees, ornaments, christmas music, bright christmas colors, snow, etc, etc. “Mickey’s Very Merry Party” says to me, well I dunno what it says…I guess it implies a party where people are going to be really happy(regardless of winter themes or not)?

    I think the greatest irony tho(if they do change or stick with that name) is that the only way “very merry party” even works, is because people already know about the old one. They take one look at ‘very merry party’, and go, “oh, that’s that Christmas celebration they have at Disney World every year around Christmas”. :P

  3. As an online marketeer, specializing in banner ads, this seems like marketing suicide. Definitely leaves me scratching my head. This ad itself is very “huh?”. The text doesnt even make sense.

    Maybe Disney needs to contact me about helping out ;)

  4. Yup, I think you are over-reacting just a bit. Disney is, as it always has, trying something new. If it works we’ll see more of it, if not, well… While it will never happen, Disney has to do all it can to be everything to everybody, and no matter what they do, somebody is going to complain about it, it is the nature of society.

  5. Interesting thoughts. I will say that I AM deeply religious. My faith is very important to me, as I’m sure it is to any person of any faith. And just like with any person of any faith, I do not feel included when a significant event central to my faith (in this case, Christmas) is edited to remove potential religious theming. [I will add that though the holiday might have lost a lot of religious meaning for many, John, it hasn’t for all, and I would think Disney would want to keep that in mind if the application of inclusivity is behind this move. Otherwise, aspects of the America Pavilion’s Christmas offerings and even the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights need to change, which further alienates a market share and will require even more changes to more than just MK.] When a business – any business – omits the word “Christmas” from its product, the result is exclusivity, not inclusivity. That gets old and rings false, especially when branded as an effort to be more inclusive.

    Since there is no reason to believe that Disney is intentionally trying to exclude Christians, however, this brings up your second hypothesis – it’s about saving space in print or online marketing. For me, this move makes no sense, for reasons that the other commenters have already pointed out. The word Christmas has always been part of the event’s name, it happens around Christmas, the colors are associated with Christmas, there’s a Santa Claus…. It’s unnecessary editing and makes it confusing. Why not just call it Christmas and be done with it? Do those 9 letters really cost that much extra?

    In the end, whatever the reason is, I don’t understand or much care for the move. It unnecessarily stirs up controversy.

    1. Whether I agree with you or not is not important. But very well said, when it could have been so easy to get all defensive, rude and condemning, which seems to have become the norm. Thank you for a civil response.

  6. Another very possible explanation: They’re trying to plant the idea of an official merry “season”, to make palatable (and marketable) parties and promotions that take place even further ahead of, and maybe even after, Christmas.

    It’s analogous to “holiday season” being used to turn everything between Thanksgiving and Twelfth Night into a continuous mall frenzy.

    Myself, I’ve come to regard 99% of the annual celebrations as fun but totally unrelated to observances of the birth of Christ. I see no point in demanding His name be used to shill for merchandise or even theme parks. If anything, I’d rather NOT see it over a display of Grand Theft Auto games or a liquor store counter. Put up your Nativity scenes, share and celebrate as you will, and be a little grateful when a marketer doesn’t reflexively slap it on a sign with neither reverence or relevance.

  7. Don’t they also market Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party as “Mickey’s Halloween Party” in certain ads? The billboard in Audubon Park (Orlando) this year said “Mickey’s Halloween Party”. Maybe it’s a real estate issue depending on advertising channel.

  8. You don’t become more inclusive by removing a word like Christmas. You become inclusive by INCLUDING MORE.

    Exactly. I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s common sense like that, which shows how much common ground people can have. Thank you for having the courage to be a voice for the right things.

  9. You cannot become inclusive by adding, when the original word itself is exclusive. Christmas is exclusive by itself. You can add Hannukah, and Kwanzaa, and give them bigger presences in the park. You can add Yule, and the Solstice, and you’d still be excluding those whom are secular.

    Inclusion is fine, but it’s not like Christmas is losing it’s large representation by losing the singular word. The Osborne lights will continue to make me feel uncomfortable as a non-Christian with the heavy religious tones and paraphernalia. The Processional at Epcot will continue to alienate and *exclude* me as a guest because it so strongly pushes a belief I simply don’t have.

    A Christmas party is inherently exclusionary. The fact that for many, such as a commentator above, it is still a religious thing makes it exclusionary. Losing a word doesn’t make the party less inclusive so long as the party itself is inclusive, and is made to feel welcoming to those who come for a Holiday season party of ANY belief or non-belief. A Christmas party can never be ‘Inclusive’ it can only make other beliefs feel ‘represented’, but never celebrated. It can also never truly make those of non-belief, who don’t treat Christmas as a secular holiday, included. World Showcase and Osborne Lights already does a great job of making other beliefs feel marginalized with their token displays of Hannukah and Kwanzaa. That isn’t inclusion, and it continues to be something I have to just accept to enjoy the otherwise amazing displays and showings for this season.

    1. I’m sad you feel that way Fawkes and hope you can overcome some of those feelings(for no other reason than own enjoyment during the holidays). I believe that we humans feel excluded only if/when we make ourselves excluded.

      Two very real life examples:
      1)I’m not patriotic at all, I see many problems with our country(I don’t even vote). Yet believe me, I enjoy myself some fireworks every single year on the 4th of July. Even if all the most cringeworthy patriotic songs are sung. I allow myself to enjoy the ‘season’ just as much as the next guy. I only feel excluded and left out if I let myself feel excluded and left out.
      2)The same is true for Halloween. Being the father of a very young girl, I have no desire for her to be a part of the overtly scary stuff that dominates the halloween season and foolishly IMO glamorizes demons and monsters. But at the same time I don’t exclude my daughter from that. I don’t make her feel left out. I dress her up like Anna(did that this year) and consciously bring her to the safest, non-scariest places where I know she can enjoy halloween “on her own terms”. She only feels excluded and left out if I make her feel excluded and left out.

      I would love to think that one day you could thoroughly enjoy everything Christmas as much as me, on your own terms(even the most religiously-themed songs and sites). Here’s what I recommend. Just keep in mind while you walk through Mickey’s very merry Christmas party that:
      One)Jesus was not born on December 25th.
      Two)Christmas is not in the bible.
      And Three)People aren’t going to the Disney party “for Jesus” or “God” or as a “religious pilgrimage”, or to exclude the non-religious(If you know anyone that is, tell them to call me, I have a lot to help them with).

      1. While those are good points, you’d think Christians would consider them more strongly than they do. December 25th was not when Jesus was born, so why celebrate his “birthday” then? What people are celebrating, really, is either the co-opted Feast of Mithras or the pagan Yule, which the early church borrowed heavily from so as to usher in believers of other faiths.

        Why can’t we simply have a winter holiday that includes everyone? Bright lights, happy carols, lifting each other up, and leave the worship for the churches and homes? That way, everyone can have both the deep, religious connection to that time, as well as include others of other faiths–or no faith at all. It is an *INCLUSIVE* compromise.

  10. I’m pretty sure (99.999999999%) that this is entirely about branding and marketing. If you notice that “Very Merry” logo is all over the merchandise and marketing this year. I believe whoever put this ad together decided the logo was too important to make smaller by adding a long word like Christmas. Sure it’s dumb but I don’t think it was an intentional move to exclude anyone. Now if the name were changed to “Mickey’s Very Merry Holiday Party” all bets would be off but no way does the Mouse want that kind of publicity.

  11. The ad I heard on Pandora last night included the word Christmas. Looking at the space on the banner it looks like there was only so much room. Most locals who might see that ad already know that it is a “Christmas” party so it is not necessary to include it on such a small advertisement. Kinda like how you can ask someone, “Are you going Not-So-Scary?” and know that it is Disney and not Universal Studios.

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