Case Study: Disney
Few companies have been able to connect with a specific audience as well as Disney has. From its founding in 1923, the Disney brand has always been synonymous with quality entertainment for the entire family. The company, originally founded by brothers Walt Disney and Roy Disney, stretched the boundaries of entertainment during the 20th century to bring classic and memorable family entertainment around the world. Beginning with simple black and white animated cartoons, the company grew into the worldwide phenomenon that today includes theme parks, feature films, television networks, theatre productions, consumer products, and a growing online presence.
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The company stumbled for a few years without the leadership of its two founding brothers. However, by the 1980s, The Walt Disney Company was back on its feet and thinking of new ways to target its core family oriented consumers as well as expand into new areas that would reach an older audience. It launched the Disney Channel, Touchstone Pictures, and Touchstone Television. In addition, Disney featured classic films during The Disney Sunday Night Movie and sold classic Disney films on video at extremely low prices in order to reach a whole new generation of children. The brand continued to expand in the 1990s as Disney tapped into publishing, international theme parks, and theatrical productions that reached a variety of audiences around the world.
Today, Disney is comprised of five business segments: The Walt Disney Studios, which creates films, recording labels, and theatrical performances; Parks and Resorts, which focuses on Disney’s 11 theme parks, cruise lines, and other travel-related assets; Disney Consumer Products, which sells all Disney-branded products; Media Networks, which includes Disney’s television networks such as ESPN, ABC, and the Disney Channel; and Interactive Media.
Disney’s greatest challenge today is to keep a 90-year-old brand relevant and current to its core audience while staying true to its heritage and core brand values. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger explained, “As a brand that people seek out and trust, it opens doors to new platforms and markets, and hence to new consumers. When you deal with a company that has a great legacy, you deal with decisions and conflicts that arise from the clash of heritage versus innovation versus relevance. I’m a big believer in respect for heritage, but I’m also a big believer in the need to innovate and the need to balance that respect for heritage with a need to be relevant.”
Internally, Disney has focused...