Justin Bieber… the Belle of the Ball? Lessons to Learn from Disney’s Doll Disaster

Since it was announced two years ago, Disney fans have been waiting with bated breath for the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson. Now, after countless sneak peeks and trailers in an epic marketing roll-out, Disney has launched a line of dolls.

These dolls, which are modeled after the actors in the movie, are the very reason photographer and doll enthusiast William Herrington found himself in the toy aisle at a JC Penney in Grand Junction, Colorado earlier this month. But, as BuzzFeed News reports, his excitement quickly turned into “disappointment and disgust.” Rather than purchase a doll, he shared his dismay (and a few choice words) on Flickr instead.

“I knew that Disney Store’s live action dolls are never 100% accurate to the actors, but this one was atrocious!” said Herrington, referring to the ‘Belle’ doll, which was supposed to look like Watson. “Her face was shiny and covered in freckles (that looked more like a skin disease) and her head looked like it was being ripped open and torn where the hair was rooted into the head […] As for any resemblance to Emma…yeesh. There really isn’t any.”

The internet agrees. In fact, after Herrington’s image started making rounds online, Twitter users began pointing out that the doll looked nothing like the young actress but rather… Justin Bieber.

Perhaps this is Disney’s ode to JB’s 2012 hit song, Beauty and A Beat?

Jokes aside, mishaps like these can and do happen to the best of us. And as far as #fails go, this isn’t the worst thing to happen to a toy brand over the past year. If you’re a craft brand experiencing your own “oops” moment, here’s our best advice:


  • Breath. Assess the situation. Is it really that bad? In Disney’s situation, this is a case of Twitter just being, well, Twitter. Sure the doll will likely bring in less sales than expected but all things considered, it could have been much worse.
  • Ask yourself what you can do. Launching a new product takes a considerable amount of time and resources. With Beauty and the Beast set to hit theatres in March, Disney only has a couple months to act if they’re thinking of scrapping the dolls and starting from scratch. This course of action may be possible for a very small brand, but more often than not, it’s unrealistic.
  • Work with what you got. What Disney (or any other brand who finds themselves in a similar situation) can do is contain the issue and revise the next batch of product. Resident Expert @RetailPhil suggests they turn this into a ‘happy accident.’ “They can always keep the Bieber-lookalike dolls as a limited edition option for fans. Who knows? A decade from now, these dolls may be seen as an iconic product (seeing as they’re the result of a funny mishap) or collector’s item!”
Dayana Cadet

Dayana Cadet

Dayana’s love affair with writing spans all manner of content. As the Content Specialist at Hubba, connecting people to the things they love is where she thrives.

Follow her at @D_isforDayana
Dayana Cadet