The Most Magical Place on Earth
The Walt Disney Company was founded in 1923 by brothers Walt and Roy Disney as The Disney Brothers Company. Walt and Roy changed the name relatively quickly to make the name more inviting to consumers. The company was founded as an animation studio, however today is the owner of 11 theme parks and numerous television, radio and recording studios.
The 11 theme parks are divided within the Disneyland Resort, the Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Paris, the Tokyo Disney Resort, the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, and the Disney Cruise Line. The subsidiaries of the Walt Disney Company include ABC, ABC Family, ABC OTV, ABC News, ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Disney Online, Disney Channel, Disney Family, Family Fun, IParenting, Go, Radio Disney, Soapnet, and Walt Disney Records.
The Walt Disney Company is the third largest media and entertainment corporation in the world only after Time Warner and the News Corporation. Ad Age Magazine reported that The Walt Disney Corporation spent an estimated $1.8 Billion on advertising in 2006, making The Walt Disney Corporation the 13th largest advertiser in the world.
The Walt Disney Company has always understood that publicity is better for their business than advertising. In 1930, Walt Disney wanted to connect on a stronger emotional level with his audience, and so he decided to give Mickey Mouse a dog, named Pluto. Walt Disney passed away in 1966. The CEO of The Walt Disney Company from 1984-2005 was Michael Eisner, who was recently replaced by Bob Iger.
Soon after Eisner took the position, The Walt Disney Company reinvented itself as “The World’s Premier Entertainment Company.”
Disney Resorts and Theme Parks are packed with partnership advertisements. EPCOT Theme Park has sponsors for many of the large attractions. The Universe of Energy ride is sponsored by Exxon, The Land previously by Kraft and now by Nestle, The Imagination Center is sponsored by Kodak, Mission: SPACE by Hewlett-Packard, Spaceship Earth by Siemens, and the Test track by GM.
The Walt Disney Company also has partnerships with Pixar and Visa. McDonald’s is able to create toys for the release of major Disney movies, as well as has numerous restaurants throughout Disney Theme Parks. Disney was given a number of Chevrolet zero-gas, zero-emissions Equinox Fuel Cell cars to shuttle both Disney employees and celebrities throughout the parks. Disney also offers DVD rentals on demand to Xbox Live users since 2007, through its deal with Microsoft. And recently, Disney has made a deal with the new BLU-RAY Disc technology.
Disney often creates partnerships during the release of their films. Recently, Disney partnered with M&Ms to promote the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.
In 2006, The Walt Disney Company created an advertising campaign aimed at children and young adults titled “Where Dreams Come True.” The campaign was designed to promote travel to Disney, but also to help foster the dreams and goals of viewers. The campaign featured ABC show stars such as Kim Yun-Jin from LOST, Isaiah Washington from Grey’s Anatomy and James Denton from Desperate Housewives. The advertisements were in documentary style.
In 2007, renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz was hired by The Walt Disney Company to produce a series of print advertisements for Walt Disney Worlds “Year of a Million Dreams” campaign. Leibovitz used famous celebrities to portray well-known Disney characters. Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony portrayed Jasmine and Aladdin, Jessica Biel – Pocahontas, Gisele Bundchen and Tina Fey posed in a Peter Pan scene, David Beckham – Prince Charming, Scarlet Johannson – Cinderella, Beyonce – Alice in Wonderland.
A huge amount of thought and effort went into the shot of each ad for this campaign. Teacups from the Disney Theme Park were transported and placed with a crane for the Alice in Wonderland shoot, while a Harry Winston Tiara and a specially made Steuben glass slipper were used in the Cinderella shot. The advertisements were placed in magazines including Vogue, W, GQ, Vanity Fair, Cookie, The New Yorker, and Conde Nast Traveler.
Recently, television advertisements have been aimed at promoting visits to the website through exclusive deals and rates.
This May, Disney launched an advertising research lab designed to “understand the emotional drivers and physiological reactions to advertising.” The research lab will test brand integration, sponsorships, interactivity, split screens, addressable advertising, mobile device advertising, and broadband video advertising.