There are those who believe that some businesses are so well known that they don’t have to advertise. The notion of “too big to fail” may only apply to banks, because The Walt Disney Company was reminded in calendar Q3 2019 that even the Mouse needs advertising to reach the public.
Audiences are certainly familiar with names such as “Avengers: Endgame”, , Star Wars, The Disney Channel, ESPN, Disneyland, and “Toy Story 4”. That familiarity is the result of long-term effective marketing. Jingles, vivid images, emotional storytelling, positive customer experiences, and merchandise investments all make for the largest entertainment company on Earth. They generated US$20.25 billion in the second calendar quarter of 2019 alone.
It may seem natural that a behemoth could skimp on some marketing here and there. When you combine such beloved brands as Disneyland (the most famous theme park in the world) and Star Wars (arguably the most famous science fiction franchise in the world), advertising was considered optional – something that could be skipped because the public was already addicted. This is what Disney tried to do with the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction at Disneyland. Tried – and failed.
Despite Disney’s colossal box office success in generating US$8 billion so far this year and the new Star Wars-themed areas in Disneyland and Disney World in Florida, the company’s fiscal Q3 (Apr-Jun 2019) earnings were far below analysts’ expectations and theme park attendance was off 3%.
“Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger had said he didn’t even need to advertise the new attraction, since anticipation among Star Wars fans was so high. But the company has since stepped up promotions of Galaxy’s Edge on billboards and social media.”Christopher Palmeri of Bloomberg
So what happened? How did two iconic brands miss the mark? How did the most expensive upgrade in Disneyland history not put feet in lines?
As CEO Iger said, they thought the people knew and cared enough. They failed to account for the negative effects that higher ticket costs, long lines, and boosted food prices would have on affordability. There was also a significant over-correction for enthusiasm. Iger believed interest would be so high that they needed to persuade potential visitors not to come. Competition also stepped up their attacks by spending more on marketing and offering discounted ticket prices.
Assumptions are risky and Disney’s blew up in their face. The public didn’t materialize as expected and posts abounded on social media of the nearly empty new Star Wars land. Not great for a billion-dollar product launch.
Every brand must advertise. The public not only deserves to know about your product, but they also must be comfortable choosing to use your product. This is where Disney failed. People were concerned about affordability and experience. Mickey and his friends didn’t effectively communicate with their audience because they believed they didn’t need to. Thankfully this has changed.
Disney is now advertising the new land in digital and traditional media. Even the marketing titan of Disney with their billions of dollars and millions of media tools understand the value of a media mix. It could be assumed that Disney would only need to go digital. Everyone is sharing experiences on social media, using the official Disneyland app, and searching for tickets online. But billboards, television, and radio remain prominent and trusted parts of daily life for hundreds of millions of Americans.
So don’t repeat Disney’s mistakes. If the Avengers, the Sith, Hakuna Matata, and Buzz Lightyear require multimedia marketing to get the job done, so do you.
Cardinal sin of advertising: racism.
Divine blessing of advertising: a good ad agency.
The law firm of McCutcheon & Hammer seems to be the unfortunate victims of advertising that they didn’t want. According to them, they didn’t even pay for it. Or ask for it. A commercial production company created the offensive ad below using a horrible Asian stereotype character and it was uploaded to the firm’s YouTube channel. Check it out below (on the production company’s YouTube channel) and then scroll down for updates since the video was discovered last week.
Things got weird once the video went viral. The law firm claimed that it never commissioned the video and that their YouTube channel was hacked. It is a fair assumption that a local TV production company doesn’t have the ability to “hack” YouTube (which is owned and secured by Google). So let’s assume the law firm is using some legalese and hinging the accuracy of their statement on the first part of the statement. They never commissioned this particular video and, therefore, never authorized it being uploaded to YouTube.
Since both sides make opposing claims and the ad involves a very derogatory portrayal of Asians, the Natiaonl Asian Pacific American Bar Association has looked into the situation and made some odd discoveries:
1) Neither party is willing to produce documentation to support their claim.
2) Neither party is eliminating the idea that someone pretending to work for the law firm is responsible. (If this is true, the production company is disastrously negligent in their client authorization process!)
3) The video is still online.
4) The law firm has not followed through with any threat to sue the production company.
5) This is still very bad PR for the law firm and production company.
All that said, the judgment on this one is bad all the way around. The production company makes junk, and racist junk at that. The law firm has done terrible damage control. If this were professionally handled at the onset, it would have been cleanly wrapped up and the reputation of the firm would still be in tact. Such is not the case today.