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Is the Suspense Killing You?

16 Nov

Although I have not seen the movie myself, I recently read an article (1) by B. Barnes that went hand in hand with the many complaints I had heard regarding the new Disney movie “Toy Story 3.” The typical story goes like this:

“I was so excited to see the newest Toy Story (since I saw the first one as a kid) that I waited on line for a ticket for what seemed like hours. After a good 45 minutes online an announcement was made that this specific viewing had been sold out. I then left in disappointment and ordered tickets online for a different showing later on. I arrived for the later showing with pure excitement and joy… and then just as Woody and Buzz were going for the great escape… it was over.”

Uh oh. Disney had used a cliffhanger- leaving it’s audience in great frustration and anticipation for a potential “Toy Story 4.” Is this another clever marketing strategy of Disney? I think so.

This example reminds me of the “Disney Vault.” The vault is where Disney “hides” it’s movies from stores and homes around the world until it feels like making a large sum of money on a re-release day. Then, several days or weeks later, it is thrown back into the hidden vault for what seems like forever until the point is reached in which the movie, most likely originally released back in the 1980’s, seems like new again. Everyone is left in suspense for when the movie will be released in stores yet again just like they are in theaters after watching “Toy Story 3.” The suspense kills them… and their wallets.

(1) Barnes, B. (2010) Disney uses cliffhanger to market ‘toy story 3’. New York Times, 5/1/10. Retrieved from the Academic Search Premiere Database


All that Glitters Ain’t Gold

16 Nov

Apparently there is a new “bridezilla” in town says R. Setoodeh and J. Yabroff in their article “Princess Power” (1)- her name is “princesszilla.” This princesszilla is one very lucky girl- she is worth about $4 billion and is said to be just about the most successful marketing venture ever. Sadly, this princesszilla does not actually exist in human form. She is made up of products from the Disney Princess line launched in 2000 and works her way into homes of little girls (and now adults) everywhere. Her many faces are branded onto everything from ice shows, to DVD’s, to books, to sleepwear, to toys, to dolls, to wedding gowns and now even house wares, credit cards and Mac Cosmetics. Either this is one very popular girl, or her main man, Walt Disney, is an excellent marketer. I’ll go with the latter.

I often wonder what it is that makes Disney’s products, more specifically princess products, so enticing to purchase. Is it the glitter? The pink, the purple? The actual movies themselves? The desire to hold a Disney doll in your hands as if you have just found a new best friend? I’m not too sure that any of these reasons can be all that true because think about it… there are several other companies such as Barbie that create similar “girly“ commodities, but the success rate of their products is not as high, long lasting, and successful in as many age groups as Disney.

After doing some research, I came across and article by A. Donahue entitled “The Mouse that Roared in Retail” (2), that helped me form a better understanding of the marketing strategies behind Disney’s Princess product success rates. Some of the key ingredients to their princess marketing strategies are:

-Targeting at an age range where girls are old enough to want to grow up, but young enough that they still want to play.

-Working closely with stylists to help girls see what Disney thinks would be popular, or take from what they are actually doing.

-Taking a “style-guide” to retailers for orders 18-24 months before the products will be sold in stores which will help serve the quick turn over of clothing merchandise in addition to giving an ample amount of time to manufacture.

-Not advertising with blunt, “in your face” campaigns because many viewers (even tweens) are more sophisticated than that these days.

– Advertising in a way that makes girls look up to these princesses, so they therefore want to be them and need to have their products to do so.

– Getting into the “DNA” of the show or movie to see what it is about it that appeals to females of all ages.

-Creating a large variety of product diversity.

-Crafting pitches based on the audience that each retailer attracts (ex. Walmart attracts a different audience than Target.)

After discovering some of Disney’s main marketing strategies my one and only response was- “Wow.” On one hand I want to give Disney a round of applause for creating such effective strategies that help them market to females of all ages, but on the other hand I want to scream at them for forcing themselves into the minds of such young and innocent girls. So is Disney really as “kid” and “family friendly” as they are cracked up to be? I don’t think so. I don’t know many moms and dads who would appreciate anyone forcing commodities and mature ideas into their young daughters’ minds.

(1) Setoodeh, R, & Yabroff, J. Princess power. Newsweek, 150 (22), Retrieved from the Ebsco Host Database

(2) Donahue, A. (2009) The mouse that roared at retail. Billboard, 121 (30), Retrieved from the Ebsco Host Database

How Disney remains Disney

15 Nov

One of my initial questions when beginning the process of debunking the Disney empire was to find out – how did Disney achieve this?  How did Disney become Disney?  Why can every child recognize a Disney princess, or sing the lyrics by heart to songs from “The Lion King,” or recognize an evil step-mother?  How did Disney do that?!  Although that still remains somewhat of a mystery, how they maintain that position is through a strategic business plan.  Not only does Disney know how to gain new customers, but they know how to continue pleasing repeat customers.  Their target audience may be children, but everyone knows that most of the money funneled into Disney comes straight from the pockets of those children’s parents.


So, how does Disney target those parents to make sure they’ll see them a second, third, fourth…time?  According to Carmine Gallo, a writer for, it’s done by following these 5 steps  (2):

1. Employees should be respectful of all customers, including children.  Reach out to the kids, it may make the parent more inclined to stay in the store.

2. Nobody likes to wait in line, so make it entertaining.  Employees should strike up conversations with customers in line, tell them about upcoming events and new products (essentially: sell, sell, sell).

3. Keep up the appearance of your store, venue or website.  Whether you’re the CEO or the janitor, if you see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up!  If you don’t have a store or physical location, your website becomes your location.  Make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing, easy to use and functional.

4. Differentiate between public space and private employee space.  Off-duty employee activities should be done out of view from customers.

5. Be “assertively friendly.”  Disney wants employees to seek contact with guests.  If someone looks confused or unhappy, approach them and ask how you can help.  Offer assistance until a solution is found.

Businesses that are a fraction of the size of Disney are implementing these tactics and finding huge success.  The fact that Disney does it on such an enormous scale explains at least some of the success they have in continuing to please children and their families.  So, instead of wondering how Disney casts this magical spell on you every time you walk into a store or theme park, snap back to reality and realize that no one is waving a wand in front of your face, the employees are simply taught exceptional customer service and selling techniques.  Doesn’t sound so magical when you put it like that, does it?

(1) Barker, Jeremy. Popped Culture. Image posted to

(2) Gallo, C. (2009). How Disney Works to Win Repeat Customers., 20. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.

Disney is Tapulous

19 Oct

Disney is Tapulous — buying a chunk of iPod/Apple — what’s the meaning of this alliance?