Pixar: The Ultimate Millennial Brand?

The oldest Millennials were just getting drivers’ permits and the youngest were just being born when Toy Story became the first fully computer animated feature film. Since then, a progression of Pixar films have defined Millennnials early movie-going years in the same way Sleeping Beauty and Sound of Music defined mine. A post on Saturday by WhiteBoardMania blogger, Boomaga, reveals and articulates this generation’s deep affinity for the Pixar ‘brand’.

I’ve already got my ticket to see it, but it’s more than just a chance to go see a movie. It’s a chance to be that happy little kid again, sitting in the theater and not having a care in the world, if only for an hour and half.
I’m the living 24 year old incarnation of Randall Graves from Clerks. I’m about as far as he is in life when it comes to relationships, career, income and most of all, cynicism. I spend most of my time listening to caustic, angry music. I do not have what I would consider high job satisfaction. I’ve been to 6 Phillies game this season, and they’ve only won one of them. Everyone is stupid to me and I’ll always be the first to notice or anticipate someone’s faults before their benefits. And yet, for the last few years, about once a year, I’ve been able to feel wonder, imagination and amazement like I did 10, 15 or 20 years ago. It’s hard to see the beauty in the world around me with my daily disappointments and frustrations, whether internal or external. However, when the film rolls and the Pixar lamp hops across the screen, I’m transported out of my life to a variety of truly magical worlds without me realizing it until the movie is over.

Pixar’s latest, “Up”, scored big at the box office this weekend — $68 million, the third highest for any Pixar film and more than twice as much as “Night at the Museum” according to the WSJ. Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Motion Picture Group says “Up” shows broad age appeal: “It was as strong with kids aged two to 11 as it was with adults both under and over 25. We think we’ve got a movie that’s going to play across all demos.” The twitter buzz for #UP is bursting with enthusiasm.

Other than its coincident timing, consistent quality, and fine storytelling, what is it about Pixar films that connects and engages so well with Gen Y?

If you have been reading this blog you can probably guess what I am about to posit: Pixar has perfect pitch when it comes to Millennial values, and may even have had a hand in shaping them. Each Pixar film expresses the abiding importance of family relationships (“Finding Nemo”, “Up”) and friendships (“Bugs Life”, “Toy Story”). They are innocent without being naive, and rely heavily on evocations of childhood wonder (“Wall-E”, “Up”, “Ratatouille”). They are relentlessly optimistic about the human condition, reminding us of our better natures and what we can achieve if we only stick together; sentiment without schmaltz.

Okay. I think I know what you are thinking: What makes those MILLENNIAL values? After all, are those timeless qualities? Of course. But Millennials are young enough to still believe in them. Only time will tell if they will grow more cynical.

Somehow, I don’t think so.