Advertiser: The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) Pte. Ltd. Brand: Disney+ Hotstar (Cruella) Creative Agency: N/A Credits: Moiz Bilwani - Zenith, a division of Vivaki (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Business Director Kym Chan - Zenith, a division of Vivaki (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Senior Planning Manager Aaron Wong - Zenith, a division of Vivaki (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Senior Media Planner Sheylin Lek - Zenith, a division of Vivaki (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Senior Media Planner Soo Chin Tan - Zenith, a division of Vivaki (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Implementation Manager Sze Wei Cheong - Zenith, a division of Vivaki (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Senior Media Planner Julie Kam - Zenith, a division of Vivaki (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, Senior Media Buyer
Objective & Challenge
Cruella featuring Emma Stone as the title character was a movie that was supposed to have a major theatrical release. The movie release date was set three times – but due to the resurgence of COVID, the date was pushed back despite the campaign’s partial activation. Therefore, Cruella never got a theatrical release in Malaysia. But, in the world of OTT, no theatrical release doesn’t necessarily mean no release at all. Cruella was to be launched on Disney+ thirty days post the worldwide theatrical release. After multiple postponements and start-stop executions, the challenge was to ensure we were still able to get audiences excited about the movie and for them to watch it in the comfort of their own homes rather than on the big screen.
Insight & Strategy
While Cruella is a prequel to the wildly successful franchise 101 Dalmatians, the storyline of Cruella has nothing to do with the beautiful dogs. In fact, the movie’s focus was solely on Emma Stone’s character, Cruella, and her journey from being a sweet girl named Estella interested in fashion to becoming a known fashionista while developing a mean streak. And yes, there were dogs, but more like extras rather than part of the core cast. As a result, the clear insight was to amplify the focus on Cruella as a character and her eccentricities – someone who’s all about fashion, very sophisticated but extra in nature with a slight mean streak to her. Based on the insight, the strategic direction for our execution was to “Unveil Your Inner Cruella.” A direction whereby we can see an influencer getting in touch with their bold but mean; fashionable but extra; expressive but over-powering side of personality.
The first step towards the campaign’s execution was to identify a perfect version of Cruella – or well, somebody who can embody the spirit of Cruella. We needed a female influencer who can be: 1. Fashionable just like Cruella 2. Bold, expressive, and a little bit crazy so that she’s able to embody the persona that is associated with Cruella 3. Good-natured but, who people would believe could possess a mean streak – showcasing transition from Estella to Cruella 4. Finally, some very extra but authentic in their daily life to ensure believability when they embody Cruella So, after an extensive internal casting session – there was one clear winner, Jenn Chia. She checked all the boxes and was already a huge 101 Dalmatians fan and by extension, a Cruella fan. The partnership entailed that she would embody Cruella (unbranded) for a period of three days before she officially declares on D-Day that she collaborated with Disney+ to “Unveil Her Inner Cruella” the past few days. The first step towards embodying Cruella was to don Cruella’s iconic hairdo, the half (black) and half (white/light blonde) hair. Believe it or not, Jenn did it – she cut her fringe, got a trim, and bleached half her hair. After her makeover, Jenn did a big unveiling of her new look to her fans, including her influencer boyfriend, Jon Liddle. The look also featured a red dress and a black leather jacket. In other words, a high fashion unveiling, very Cruella-esque (without actually calling out the partnership)! From there on, for the next 3 days, every single IG posting, IG story, IG reel, and every physical public outing was while she’s embodying Cruella (looks + personality). She collected her Grab order; she went grocery shopping; she did yoga in her condo’s common area; she did everything embodying Cruella. On D-Day, she formally announced Cruella’s launch on Disney+ with a post mirroring Cruella’s look and feel including her custom-made outfit mimicking Emma Stone’s. As part of that announcement, she also unveiled that the entire makeover (including the half and half) was a prank – a first-ever for Jenn Chia.
The buzz that Jenn Chia was able to drive was as Cruella famously said in the movie, “just marvelous.” Her makeover unveiling became a major conversation starter – because Jenn does not do pranks, her followers believed that she is eccentric enough to have done the makeover in real. For unveiling IG Reel alone, she got almost 50k likes and over 1,000 comments – an engagement rate of almost 15% and delivered a reach of over 500,000 (almost 25% higher than even her follower count). Most people loved the makeover, while few drama-drama. And some even guessed the link to Cruella. From her makeover unveiling until the formal announcement, Jenn did more than 30 IG stories and 2 IG reels to continue to drive the narrative that her makeover was indeed real and continuing conversations around her bold, crazy self. The IG stories across this period delivered over 1mil impressions daily and the 2 IG reels collectively delivered over 50k likes and almost 1,000 comments in total. The most important output, the announcement carousel post was posted on the D-Day. She laid out a very powerful message that embodying Cruella empowered her to be even bolder, expressive, and a little bit crazy. It gave her the confidence to be more in sync with herself. This message and the mirroring of the Cruella look and feel got more than 70,000 likes and over 1,200 likes – an engagement rate of well over 20%. Most people loved her courage to have undertaken the “Unveil Your Inner Cruella” approach in such an entertaining yet authentic manner. The prank really did a number on her followers for good 3 days. Jenn was so overwhelmed by the response from her followers that she did an IG live to address how she pulled this off and how her experience was. The IG live was attended by her boyfriend Jon Liddle (a co-conspirator for this activation). The impact of this execution was significant – aside from talkability and buzz, we were able to see some fantastic business results. While Disney+ does not release viewership numbers, an independent tracking site that tracks the best performing content locally for Disney+ showed Cruella as the top-performing movie for weeks for the platform.