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Coco, since its release, has seen widespread success across the U.S. and Mexico. Upon the original release of the trailer, many took to the internet to express their outrage over the Pixar stealing concepts from The Book of Life, another film centered around Dia de Los Muertos. While the movies are completely different in plot (Coco centering around tradition, family, and legacy and the Book of Life centered on love, bravery, and courage), the similarities in animation come from concepts already embedded in Mexican culture.
Even though Coco was released years after the Book of Life, it received more recognition and praise because Disney went all out, as they always do, with marketing.
The Book of Life was created by a husband and wife duo backed by a predominantly Mexican production team. Their campaign for the film had wonderful collateral that, if distributed through the proper channels, could have really made the same impact as Coco; a landmark movie centered around Mexican culture and folklore in the mainstream media. TBOL had posters that were artistically original with a custom made font that held true to Mexican culture. Their social media at the time was solely centered on static images with very little engaging content like video (excluding the trailer) and gifs. Outside of print and digital, the only other initiative came from releasing a game, similar to Candy Crush, centered on the movie.
Coco, in comparison, went above and beyond with VR, introducing the movie’s signature song “Remember Me” on Dancing With the Stars, and partnerships with other brands such as Southwest Airlines, Ancestry.com, Guitar Center, and many more. Disney even had their own Coco themed float at a Dia de Los Muertos parade in Mexico City and Mexican performers at the U.S. premiere in Hollywood.
What it comes down to is simple, Disney had the budget to go all out with their marketing initiatives. Both films, though similar in subject matter and concept, prove that with well-done marketing campaigns, it can make a difference in how the world responds to your brand or product. The whole point of marketing is to create awareness and engagement. If the Book of Life had the same marketing budget as Disney, it probably could have done just as well as Coco and be landmarked as a pioneering movie for Mexican culture in the mainstream media.
Disclaimer: We love both Coco & the Book of Life and have nothing against Disney or ReelFX Studios. Both are beautiful works of art that deserve to be shared with the world.