Sunday, July 27, 2008

Disney Synergy

The idea of synergy within the Disney company is not new. We see much of it today -- such as cross-branding from The Disney Channel into retail outlets, movie theaters, and theme parks. But this is not a new idea by any means. In 1967, Disney's synergy among its various organizations was alive and well. The company went so far as to create an updated diagram of the creative and marketing links shared within. This was not the first such diagram to be created, but given the time period, it tells many great stories. (click on the image to view a larger version)

The first thing that jumps to attention is that the studios were central to the Disney operation. The studios command the largest amount of real estate on the diagram and have more links than any of the others. In 1967, the company was still deeply rooted in its studio beginnings, and this entity formed the core of all the company's activities.

Other divisions of note include Disney World Florida which was in planning stages, the Mineral King ski resort which never found its way to realization, and the Celebrity Sports Center which was a short-lived recreation center in Denver, CO.

Some of the more interesting synergies:

  • Disneyland plugs motion pictures and keeps characters before the public - As much as many Disney theme park purists may dislike the seemingly rapid growth of characters in the parks in the recent years, this was a planned strategy forty years ago. Sleeping Beauty Castle was named while the film was still in production as a means of building interest in the character and story.
  • Disneyland and Disney World Florida provide a major sales outlet for merchandise licensing - The company has always carried various souvenirs for sale in the parks, including ones branded with characters from television and film.
  • WED master plans, produces audio-animatronics, and imagineers and designs attractions for Disneyland, Disney World Florida, and Mineral King - It is no surprise at WED's involvement in the theme parks that we know today, but the Mineral King ski resort was to be home to a small set of imagineered attractions, as well. The Country Bear Jamboree was originally conceived for Mineral King.
  • TV promotes the theme parks and the talents of WED - Walt Disney viewed television as a great promotional tool since its inception. Even after his death, the company still realized the potential that this outlet had in getting audiences excited about the theme parks. We still see this today with such things as the fairly new Disney Travel on Demand series.
  • Music, TV, publications, comic strips, studios, and theme parks promote each other through use of characters, stories, and settings - There are many links amongst these divisions that showcase how the company viewed its intellectual assets as a means of advertising and providing source material to other divisions. These synergies are too many to list here.

Disney has maintained course on realizing the potential it can gain by aligning its various divisions. The ESPN brand is a great example. The cable network occasionally has Walt Disney World centered promotions. Plus Walt Disney World has annual ESPN weekends and will soon re-brand the Wide World of Sports to include the ESPN name.

It would be quite interesting to see an up-to-date synergy diagram.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Epcot 1978: Dubailand?

With the recent activity in Dubai to create a world-class travel destination, it is interesting to note that early plans for EPCOT Center included a United Arab Emirates pavilion.

Press materials describe the pavilion as follows:

"Guests arriving at the Pavilion presented by United Arab Emirates will immediately pass two ancient Arabic Dhows (sailing ships). Inside the pavilion visitors first experience the excitement of a re-created Bedouin encampment. Located at the center of this desert oasis will be the traditional ascetic black tents which symbolize Arabian warmth and hospitality. Guests browsing within these tents will observe a veritable treasure of Arabian hand craftsmanship both on exhibit and for sale. Surrounding this encampment, a series of cultural displays and facades will be constructed authentically duplicating the arid architectural style typical of the Arabic countryside. Guests passing through this area will also be exposed to the fragrant aromas of an Arabian restaurant offering the finest in traditional Arab food.

"Upon exiting the Bedouin encampment, guests are beckoned by the opulent royal marquis to enter an Arabian nights experience, a thrilling magic carpet ride through the Arab World's most fascinating cultures, both past and present. As guests glide above the courtyard area, a powerful mythical character appears before them to serve as narrator and guide through the adventure. Leaving the black tents behind, magic carpets actually pass through the mythical character's apparition into a star-lit night where the narrator describes early Arabic contributions in the fields of astronomy, navigation, and mathematics. Once again, the narrator appears in front of the approaching magic carpets to guide guests into a showcase of medicine, chemistry, libraries, and science, all of which had their earliest beginnings in the Arab World.

"Finally, the mythical character appears once more to present the many cultural contributions occurring in the Arab World today."