Disney Parks, which last week said that it was integrating the marketing of its entire portfolio of parks and resorts worldwide under one theme, spent many months conducting the consumer research that lead to the change, one of its largest undertakings ever.
Under the new global marketing theme, Where Dreams Come True, Disney will focus on bringing that theme to life for its visitor’s through giveaways, special events and sweepstakes at its parks across the globe (Xtra, June 8, 2006).
Disney executives arrived at the central theme after conducting nearly two years of research across its platform of parks. The effort started with research the company began in Hong Kong and China related to Hong Kong Disneyland, which opened in September 2005, and from consumer research as part of its Disney’s 50th anniversary in the U.S., which ends in September.
“We wanted to understand consumers’ level of understanding regarding our brand experience,” Michael Mendenhall, executive VP-global marketing for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, told PROMO last week. “Then, we expanded it across the world.”
What Disney discovered that consumers agreed on one descriptor across its five parks—that it is a place where dreams come true. In the surveys and focus group discussions, Disney asked consumers about their brand experience, their expectations and motivations to visit the parks. The company surveyed both families and other visitors.
“What we are seeing is a market of one,” Mendenhall said. “This is a concept that clearly exists in consumers’ mindsets. Walt [Disney] 50 years ago branded this idea of this transformational experience, this escape, this getaway. That message was strong enough and compelling enough it resonated around the world.”
The central marketing theme shows Disney’s global appeal and is activated with various campaigns at each park. When Mendenhall joined Disney some 20 years ago, the brand had more of a regional calling in the U.S. That’s no longer the case. Over the coming months, Disney will celebrate milestones of its own at its parks, including the first anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland and the 15th anniversary at Disneyland Paris.
“As we begin to expand our footprint around the world…we now have a global presence and have developed a global brand,” Mendenhall said. “We are now beginning to operate that way.”
Already, Disney has kicked off its U.S. initiative under the new global campaign. An online sweeps, Keys to the Magic Kingdom, will award one family a trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida to spend a day at Magic Kingdom to themselves. Consumers can enter at My DisneyParks.com through July 31.
The sweepstakes dovetails on Disney’s Year of a Million Dreams, which begins Oct. 1. Under the yearlong promotion, employees at each U.S. park will award daily prizes at random to guests, including passes to Disney parties, gold FastPass tickets and overnight stays at Florida’s Cinderella Castle or the Mickey Mouse Penthouse in California.
TV spots and online materials will support the Where Dreams Come True theme. Leo Burnett, Chicago, Mcgarry-Bowen in New York and Disney’s in-house creative team, handle the ads.
As part of the global initiative, Disney is opening a variety of new attractions and events around its Finding Nemo property, including a musical and a ride at Walt Disney World Resort this year. Space Mountain will get an upgrade at Disneyland Resort next spring with a new attraction, Rockin’ Space Mountain. Also in 2007, Disney will add The Laugh Floor Comedy Club to the Florida resort.