Mouse House hopes all publicity is good publicity

Thanks to ubiquitous Mouse marketing, there’s likely not a living soul in this odd enclave of China that doesn’t know of the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland this coming weekend. (There are three days of opening celebrations from Sat 10 through Monday 12, when the paying public is finally allowed through the gates.)

Discrete mouse ear silhouettes started appearing on subway maps in Hong Kong a couple of months ago, before the opening of the new line that connects the Sunny Bay station to the Victorian-style Disneyland Resort station. Since then the marketing message has become less subtle. A huge mock up of a train at the hub station in Central district has counted down the days to the opening and myriad sponsors and partner brands have also cranked up their messages.

But a better verdict on the marketing will only be delivered some months from now when visitor numbers can be examined.

Right now the bigwigs at the Mouse House must be praying to their fairy godmothers that all publicity really is good publicity. For during this particularly wet summer, HK Disneyland has been drenched in bad notices, negative stories and media carping. Whatever positive spin has been applied by the park-keepers, it seems to have come back and bitten them.

One of the worst moments was two weeks ago (Aug. 23) when one of the local celebrities singer-actor Daniel Wu Yin-cho (“New Police Story,” “Around The World In 80 Days”) who had been part of a promo TV program overnight turned into an ugly sister.

“We will not be going to Disneyland EVER again,” the Californian-born thesp wrote in English on the Web site of his band Alive. To his fans he wrote, “If you do go [to the park], watch out for the pale-skin staff, they will try and talk to you as if you’re stupid.”

And to cast members the message was: “Please get off your high horse and adjust the attitude. If you are going to talk down to someone at least look them in the eyes.”

The onboard PRs were able to deflect Wu’s views as personal and atypical. But then they’ve grown used to grinning and bearing it.

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