Disney’s internet-media group on Friday is debuting “Club Mickey Mouse,” which puts a social-media spin on the 62-year-old “Mickey Mouse Club” franchise, and introduced the show’s eight teen Mousketeer cast members.
“Club Mickey Mouse” videos and other content will be available exclusively on Facebook (at facebook.com/clubmickeymouse) and Instagram (at @ClubMickeyMouse), although Disney will promote some content on other platforms to drive users to the Facebook and Instagram pages.
The initial program will run for seven weeks, with Disney Digital Network publishing around 70 pieces of content per week (amounting to more than one hour of video weekly). “Club Mickey Mouse” will follow the new class of Mouseketeers as they create original songs and choreography, culminating in a musical performance and music video every week.
“This isn’t about a 22-minute episode released once a week,” said Andrew Sugerman, EVP of publishing and digital media at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “It’s a digital-first variety program that celebrates everything that was done in the original programs, but presenting content in the way it’s consumed by today’s Gen Z audiences.”
Another new twist: “Club Mickey Mouse” is exclusively sponsored by HP, whose mobile Sprocket Photo Printer makes cameo appearances throughout the series. The show is published through the Facebook Anthology branded-content program. Disney and HP execs say the product integration occurred “organically” — with writers proposing ideas for how to use the Sprocket, and the Mouseketeers throwing those out and finding their own uses for the device.
“We leaned into Facebook and Instagram, using data across their platforms, to create content that makes sense for this audience,” Sugerman said. “The goal was to make sure we’re making a program where strong, talented creators could speak to a generation of creators.”
“Club Mickey Mouse” is more like a reality show than the traditional variety TV program that first aired in the 1950s followed by a popular revival in the ’90s with notable Mousketeers including Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, and Christina Aguilera.
“This flips the format,” said Sugerman. “This is 90% behind-the-scenes — showing the process, the kids working together and with mentors — and 10% finished product.”
Shooting for “Club Mickey Mouse” occurred over the summer, predominantly in L.A. The content will be presented in multiple formats, including using Instagram Stories, Boomerangs and Facebook Live videos. In addition, Walt Disney Records will distribute the original music weekly through online music stores, including the new “Club Mickey Mouse” theme song slated to be released Sept. 12.
Disney plans to bring out subsequent season of “Club Mickey Mouse” after the freshman run, but details are TBD. As for other extensions, the show may find its way onto Disney Channel in some form; Sugerman said the digital media group is “in conversations” with the TV side of the house about a partnership.
The “Club Mickey Mouse” Mousketeers, all between the ages of 15 and 18, naturally all have Instagram accounts — which will be used to promote the show. All eight of the teens are part of the Maker Studios creator network, which Disney has dramatically restructured to be closely aligned with its family-and-kid brand identity.
The cast members are: Regan Aliyah (@regan_ux); Jenna Alvarez (@jennazalvarez); Ky Baldwin (@iamkybaldwin); Gabe De Guzman (@gabedofficial); Leanne Tessa Langston (@leannetessa_); Brianna Mazzola (@brianna.mazzola); Sean Oliu (@sean_oliu); and Will Simmons (@bigwillsimmons).
In casting the show, Disney Digital Network’s producers weren’t looking for “digital stars” per se. “We wanted to pick a cast that had talent, kids who represented creators in and of themselves but who were approachable and represented the notion of attainability,” Sugerman explained. The team scouted schools, dance studios, and performing-arts groups, in addition to talent agencies, as part of the casting process.
“Club Mickey Mouse” also features guest mentors, including internet influencers Todrick Hall and Alisha Marie, who will coach the Mouseketeers on choreography, style, and navigating social media fandom. And Mickey himself will make an appearance in “Club Mickey Mouse,” as the walk-around mascot-suited version seen at Disney theme parks.
In addition to targeting Gen Z, Disney Digital Network is looking secondarily to tap into millennials who have a nostalgic connection with “The All-New Mickey Mouse Club” from the ’90s, Sugerman said.
“Club Mickey Mouse” was developed and produced by the team behind Oh My Disney, Disney Digital Network’s flagship editorial brand for Gen Z and millennial audiences, in association with HP.
HP, which has a one-year sponsorship deal for “Club Mickey Mouse,” was attracted by the Disney franchise’s brand equity and saw the concept as an ideal opportunity to demonstrate to younger consumers how the mobile printer would fit into their lifestyle, said Vikrant Batra, global head of marketing for HP’s Imaging & Printing division. “Printing is not something this generation thinks about,” he noted.
Among other things, the Mouseketeers used HP’s Sprocket to create mosaics for one of the music-video sets. And when Todrick Hall first got on set, one of the cast printed out his picture to have Hall autograph it, according to Sugerman. “It was pretty seamless to let the product be integrated with the creative of the show,” he said.
Watch a video introducing the “Club Mickey Mouse” Mouseketeers: