On May 23, various posts in online communities pointed out Disney Korea‘s “advertising strategy” for the upcoming live-action Disney film The Little Mermaid, sparking controversy.
Netizens claimed that Disney Korea’s advertisements prominently featured NewJeans member Danielle while “hiding” the film’s lead actress Halle Bailey‘s presence.
In 2019, Halle Bailey made history by being cast as the first Black Ariel, which sparked controversy worldwide. Many Korean people expressed their dislike for the casting of Halle Bailey by commenting on various The Little Mermaid content—which only magnified this situation.
Danielle was cast as Ariel in the Korean dubbed version of the film, and the video of her singing “Part of Your World” gained a lot of attention. Despite some criticizing her Korean accent, many praised her beauty and singing skills.
The netizens in the online community posts pointed out that promotional kiosks for The Little Mermaid featured Danielle rather than Halle Bailey. They claimed that the advertisement would lead children to think Danielle is the “real” Ariel by how they were “greeted by advertisements with Danielle when they entered the movie theater.”
Another post showed a TV commercial showing Danielle’s “Part of Your World” video to promote the film.
They didn’t understand why they would show the voice actor’s face more than the actual actress’s.
Aren’t they supposed to show the main character’s face, not the voice actor? lol this is not an animation…
Others stated their confusion on why they would not show the real Ariel after “making headlines” about casting the first Black actress to play her.
They made headlines about how they cast a Black Ariel then don’t even show her in the trailers? What’s Disney’s strategy?
It was also brought up that Halle Bailey was often portrayed from afar or as a silhouette. The official trailer thumbnails from Disney Korea’s YouTube channel differed from Walt Disney Studios‘ in that there was no close-up of Halle Bailey.
In response to these posts, there were mixed reviews. Some suggested that the strategy was to generate curiosity by hiding the protagonist in the trailer only to surprise viewers with the actress’ appearance in the actual film. Others argued that since Danielle sang the Korean OST, there was no issue with highlighting her in the advertisements.
Meanwhile, The Little Mermaid will be released on May 24 in Korea.
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