“Let it Go” gives us something to hold on to

Posted March 5, 2014

Let it Go

What was your most exciting Oscar win? Aside from the sheer joy of watching Lupita accept her first Oscar as Supporting Actress in 12 Years a Slave, I was completely inspired by the success of Disney’s Frozen “Let it Go.” Written by two parents creating an anthem for their young daughters, “Let it Go” has been taken up globally as a song of new beginnings, striking out, and empowerment. All themes we can get behind at ILLUME.

Elsa sings “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen

As a mother of a four-year old, we have dolled a small fortune to watch Frozen in the theater three times and are planning to get to a sing-along. A longtime skeptic of princess tropes, I found myself enamored with the film’s message about true love – in this case the love and support found between sisters. On any given weekday, you can find my daughter singing along (which sounds something like this) often accompanied by me or my husband Eric. We sing it out, we sign it loud, and we love every minute of it. Watch out Idina Menzel! Or is Adele?

Disney, the savvy marketers that they are, have translated this film into numerous languages and regional dialects transforming the song’s message in the idioms of its local audience.

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about knowing your audience and communicating in the “language” of your target. Then it was teaching a STEM curriculum through hip-hop. Here, we see another example of effective translation in the most literal sense.

Since it’s launch, the film has also been taken up by different social groups, each bringing their own meaning to the lyrics of “Let it Go.” Wisely, Disney launched a tween-focused version replacing Idina with Demi Lovato, and watched it top the charts with full force of tween buying power behind it.

Reflecting it’s particular moment in time, we also see the song taken up by the LGBTQI rights activists, finding the Disney hit a suitable and loving coming out and liberation anthem for a right to marry movement. In any other year and under any other political moment, “Let it Go” may have taken a different path to the Oscar’s stage, through different hearts and different political movements.

Watching our family’s favorite song turn into a mega hit has become a lesson in marketing, communication and outreach. With the attention and love of the under six-year-old set, tweens, LGBTQI-identified folks, and parents of young children, the song demonstrates the way that messaging meaning and value is situational, particular, and can have a life of its own. It shows us how to know our audience, find the right messenger, and embrace your moment in time. “Let it Go” teaches us an important lesson in effectively moving the masses through touching the hearts of various segments of the population and meticulously paying attention to every detail. Something we should all hold on to.