advertising here? Contact us for more information.
Walt Disney Knew How to Get the Word Out
By Stephen Schochet
COPYRIGHT: ?2004 by Hollywood Stories. All rights reserved
You need to get the word out about your products but your economic resources are
limited. That was often the dilemma that faced Walt Disney. Often burdened with
heavy debt, he found many creative ways to let the public in on what he was
doing. His innovative marketing ideas could be used by businesses seeking
1) Capitalize on current events: In 1930 Walt felt that Mickey Mouse who was
constantly surrounded by barnyard animals should get a dog. He vividly described
to his artists a funny mutt that his family kept on their farm when he grew up
in Marceline Missouri, to the point of getting down on all fours, sniffing
around and making barking noises. Animator Norman Ferguson transformed Walt's
great acting performance into a cartoon canine named Rover . . . for five
months. Then Disney read that an amateur astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh had
discovered a ninth planet in our solar system called Pluto and Walt cashed in on
the resulting publicity by giving Mickey's pet a new name.
2) Get your employees behind your product: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
(1937) took three long years to complete and Walt suffered through many doubts
about the film's marketing direction. He worried when the press called it
"Disney's Folly" , then realized it was good to have people talk about it. He
rejected a salesman's idea that he should eliminate the dwarfs from the
advertising, pushing the love story between Snow White and the Prince instead.
But throughout the stressful production his cartoonists stayed loyal and
enthusiastic, often using their free time to run around Los Angeles to tack up
advertising posters. Snow White was a world wide success but perhaps the artists
got a little too excited. After the money rolled in Walt threw his animators a
party in gratitude. He later regretted it when his some of the more bohemian
members of his staff chose the occasion to let their hair down, and the family
event turned into a wild orgy. Any rift that the outrageous behavior caused with
the boss was forgotten by 1953 when many of his employees came to Walt's aid to
financially back Disneyland.
3) Embrace new technology: In 1927 Walt made two Mickey Mouse cartoons that were
rejected by distributors. Then sound was ushered into the movie business with
Warner Bros. The Jazz Singer. Fearful silent film stars began consulting
astrologists to predict the future, but most movie moguls shrugged off actors
talking as a fad. Movies without dialogue sold throughout the world, who wanted
to rock the boat? The unknown Walt Disney seized the opportunity, and with great
difficulty added synchronized sound to the third Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat
Willie (1928) which resulted in the rodent becoming a national craze. Later
history repeated itself in the early 50's when most of the moguls rejected the
idea of television. Walt embraced the new medium as a way to keep the public
informed about what his studio was doing.
4) Publicity is better than advertising: Today the Walt Disney Company is an
aggressive marketing behemoth that spends up to fifty million advertising
individual movies. Recent campaigns have included displaying the title of films
on grocery divider sticks at supermarket checkout stands. But their founder had
a different philosophy. As a young man Walt had left his job working for an
advertising firm to start his own entertainment company and never wavered from
his preference. When he entered television he always frowned on commercials,
preferring instead to get publicity with fun, behind the scenes looks at new
projects. He eventually left his first network ABC, accusing them of ruining the
very popular Mickey Mouse Club (1955-1959) with too many interruptions.
5) What's In A Name?: Originally the studio started in 1923 was called the
Disney Brothers. The younger, temperamental and risk-taking Walt was in charge
of the creative direction, while the older and more cautious Roy, a former bank
teller, kept the books. For forty-three years their partnership was a
combination of love, ferocious arguments and give and take. In 1926 Walt
convinced Roy that they should change the name of their enterprise to Walt
Disney, it would make their products more identifiable. A bemused Roy went along
with it, sensing his sibling's greater need for fame. The name Walt Disney
remained associated with family entertainment even after both brothers passed
In 1994 Warner Bros. had high hopes for a feature cartoon called Thumbelina. But
preview audiences found it boring, a reaction that bewildered disappointed
studio executives. A week later they showed it again with a small change: The
exact same film said Walt Disney Presents in the opening credits. The test
scores went way up and several people in the audience inquired where they could
buy Thumbelina merchandise.
Want to hear more stories? Stephen Schochet is the author and narrator of the
audiobooks Fascinating Walt Disney and Tales Of Hollywood. The Saint Louis Post
Dispatch says," These two elaborate productions are exceptionally entertaining."
Hear RealAudio samples of these great, unique gifts at http://www.hollywoodstories.com.
Stephen Schochet firstname.lastname@example.org
author and narrator of "Fascinating Walt Disney" and "Tales Of Hollywood".
Hear RealAudio samples at http://www.hollywoodstories.com