Zac Attack: An Unauthorized Biography
High School Musical: The Concert [not to be confused with the stage show] takes the cross-marketing universe of High School Musical [the tv movie] on the road in a collection of songs from the movie plus cameos for the show’s stars who are also building their solo careers.
Reviewers of the concert noted the abundant merchandise as one entered, about which I’ve seen few complaints, not surprising given that such merchandising is now a norm. The concerns about the concert most often relate to the cameos or “showcases“, what one writer terms a “crafty Disneyexec’s euphemism for a bombardment of product placements promoting the cast’s solo albums and upcoming movies.”
Vanessa Hudgens – V
Shillfest aside, the solo segments have been more pointedly questioned for the “young women’s grown-up attire and adult dance moves” that conflict strongly with the squeaky clean image of High School Musical. As a writer for the NY Times noted:
Ms. Tisdale, who plays an ambitious snob in the movie, with a penchant for pastel blazers, here dances provocatively in a corset and tiny plaid mini-skirt. As the 10-year-old female friend I brought with me proclaimed: “She’s wearing a corset. But she said her grandmother was here!”
Ashley Tisdale – He Said She Said
The issue of appropriate behavior under the Disney brand must weigh on the stars themselves, since pressure would come both from Disney and from fans to conform to a particular image, though they certainly don’t seem to mind.
The performers explain:
“They don’t have to watch over me,” says Ashley Tisdale, who plays Sharpay. “Disney knows who I am.” She adds: “I’m not into the club scene. You won’t see me go over the edgy edge. I will always be wholesome.”…
“I don’t want to be seen buying cigarettes and liquor,” says Efron. “It wouldn’t be a smart move to be out doing promiscuous things.”
Though they sound positive and comfortable with such restrictions to their emerging adulthood, one can already sense the recipe for disaster inherent in maintaining a squeaky clean facade. To a large degree, by breaking in via Disney, the transition from tween idols to whatever comes next must occur without visible signs of the inner turmoil faced by all young stars.
Corbin Bleu: Up Close
The stars of High School Musical not only face pressures to conform to a restrictive marketing image, they also face the fact that their solo careers are potentially overextensions of the HSM brand. As possibilities like a theme park and an ice show materialize and fans are glutted with High School Musical II, the movie and the merchandise, the fallout in response to oversaturation could hamper their solo efforts.
Currently HSM performers are riding a wave of popularity pushed along by Disney power and each has a serious shot at pop star success. But I don’t envy them as they attempt to mature beyond their current image and begin to leave High School Musical behind. As difficult as the marketing challenges will become, they may well be dwarfed by personal challenges.
Marketing High School Musical, Pt. 1: The Movie
Clyde Smith • ProHipHop • clyde(at)prohiphop(dot)com