Homecoming theme altered to be ‘not so focused on Disney’

The image is featured on the Homecoming website.

The Homecoming planning committee has reconsidered its original and already-publicized Disney-styled theme after conversation with university legal counsel, according to an associate director of the Office of Student Involvement.

The new theme, “This is Where the Magic Happens,” was the old tagline for the original theme, “The Wonderful World of Mason,” which University Counsel considered too close to the popular Disney trademark phrase, styling and TV series, according to Associate Director Dennis Hicks, who sits on the Homecoming Committee. 

After conversation with the University Counsel, Hicks said the Homecoming Committee decided to “take off the first part” of the original “Wonderful World of Mason” theme and raise the tagline as the new title of the theme.

“We still wanted that [Disney] feel, but to move it in a direction that’s not so focused on Disney,” said Hicks.

Hicks said the Homecoming Committee didn’t consult legal advice before deciding on the original theme, but after hearing from the University Counsel once the theme was published online, they made the decision to change the theme “slightly” as a precaution to avoid any potential legal issues.

Because Disney is a large corporation and because of the “potential national media attention” garnered by the men’s basketball team, Hicks also said they wanted to be “careful not create any problems.”

Hicks said the Committee anticipated some challenges with using Disney images or characters but thought, besides that, they would be “alright” with the original theme.

“We thought we were in the clear for the most part,” said Hicks.

The Homecoming theme was chosen by a committee of at least 15 members representing different university offices including the LEAD Office, University Information, Alumni Affairs, and Athletics.

According to Hicks, the committee originally decided on a Disney-inspired theme because it is easier to “put the theme into action” when it is linked to something universally recognizable. Hicks said other universities often do the “same thing,” citing an example of one university that adopted a Broadway-inspired Homecoming theme.

Hicks also said part of the difficulty in creating a theme is drawing inspiration from something big but retaining some sense of ambiguity with the choice of names and slogans so they aren’t instantly recognizable.

Hicks said the advice the committee received was, “If you can tell exactly where it [the theme] comes from just by reading it, you really need to reconsider doing it.”

The names of Homecoming events, including “Be Our Guest,” and “I Just Can’t Wait to be Mason Majesty,” are not expected to change because, according to Hicks, the names are not as synonymous with Disney and an instant connection to the brand isn’t as easily made. In other words, they are less likely to draw legal dispute.

Citing client confidentiality, University Counsel Thomas Moncure Jr. said he would not discuss the decision to change the Homecoming theme.

More information about Homecoming events will be available after Dec. 1, according to Hicks.

No votes yet
Student Media Group: