Tiana, whose story will come to the big screen later this year in the animated musical "The Princess and the Frog," was on the drawing board long before Barack Obama broke the presidential color barrier. According to USA Today, marketing experts say Tiana signals a growing awareness by industries from toymakers to cosmetic companies that diversity is critical in a nation where people of color will be the majority in little more than 30 years.
"It's very significant," says Lisa Skriloff, president of Multicultural Marketing Resources. "It's like a stamp of approval for one of the most outstanding family (entertainment) companies to say this is important."
Mattel, which has the license to create the Princess Tiana dolls, is planning to release its own line of black dolls in September. Part of the Barbie family, the So In Style dolls are being touted as having a more authentic appearance, from their hair to their varying skin tones.
Disney, which has had great success with its Princess franchise, predicts that sales will surge with the arrival of Tiana.
"We expect our sales of Princess Tiana products to be significant, and not just to African-American households," says Franklin.
As with her fellow princesses, Tiana merchandise will range from Halloween costumes to backpacks. There are plans for Tiana-theme MP3 players and digital cameras to be in stores by the end of the year, and a line of Princess Tiana and The Princess and the Frog books will go on sale this fall.