Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Call Me Nemo: The Disney Magic Explained!

Thank you Disney, I have seen the light: you're not kidding when you say it's a small world after all! I am blown away by your ability to connect with practically everyone.

Dressing up as Jasmine - 1994ish
Just like, oh, every other kid on the planet, I had a huge obsession with everything Disney. Besides owning almost every Disney movie on VHS (yes, I said VHS), I've been to Disney World 9 times: seven with my extended family, once with my friends from high school to celebrate our graduation, and once with my coworkers at Likeable Media. I've also been to Disneyland once and a passenger on the Disney Cruise Line twice (once on the Magic, once on the Wonder). What amazes me is that I'm not alone: not even close! Kids all over the world have been under Mickey's spell for generations. That is seriously one powerful mouse.
High School Graduation Trip  - 2006

But what's even more incredible is Disney's ability to connect with adults. I am absolutely astonished by the width of Disney's audience: From children and their parents to 20-somethings and beyond, (almost) everyone can find an aspect of the brand to which they can relate: It's no surprise that Disney World is commonly known as the happiest place on earth. As someone who works in the marketing industry, I've found myself thinking about ways that I can help my clients form this kind of connection with their audience. How the heck does Disney do it? Here are some of my conclusions:

Family - 2007
Nostalgia: Okay, this one's obvious: You loved Disney as a child, so it's only natural that you'd love it as an adult. However, your love for the brand has changed over time: rather than going to Disney World and being excited to meet Mickey Mouse, you're happy to be back in a place that made you so happy for so many years. You're associating the brand with positive emotion. It makes you feel like a kid again, back when life was simple. Don't fight it, embrace it. Just because you're only young once doesn't mean you can't relive the magic once in a while.

With some #likeable coworkers - 2011
Media: Disney is EVERYWHERE. Disney Parks, Disney movies, Disney Channel, Radio Disney, Disney XD, Disney Weddings, and the list goes on (not to mention the fact that they own ABC, ESPN, etc.). You can't miss them! The best part about this is through it all, Disney does not "sell" you, they engage with you. Disney Channel features TV segments of their fans on a regular basis. They show their talent (actors, singers, etc.) constantly participating in activities with their fans. They have a Facebook page for each of their most popular characters, giving fans an opportunity to interact and communicate with their favorite characters in ways they couldn't do in the "real world." Their Photobook Facebook application encourages users to relive their childhood and create their own "Disney Magic." Genius.

Nemo and I - 2006
Relatable Characters: As a child, I loved Disney Princesses because they were nice, pretty, smart, and basically everything I ever wanted to be. As an adult, I appreciate the characters because of the message behind their stories. After spending way too much time analyzing Disney characters (make fun all you want!), I've noticed a trend: most Disney characters are faced with an obstacle that seems impossible to overcome but in the end, they are always able to overcome it. Nemo is my favorite example: He has no mother, a little fin, and an overprotective father. He gets separated from his father and literally becomes a little fish in a big ocean. Despite his obstacles, he finds his dad in the end. At some point or another, we've all felt like a little fish in a big ocean: Maybe you've moved to a new city, started a new school or job, changed your major, or tried something new. Regardless of the obstacle, you've had to work extra hard to succeed. Disney characters may be relatable to children because they're fun and friendly, but their stories also exemplify the struggles that adults face every day. Seriously deep.

Why do you think Disney is so successful? 
How do you explain the Disney magic?
Do you agree? Disagree?

Leave some love!


  1. Having worked for disney for about a year and a half, even in a retail store you can feel the "magic" happening. I was never a raging disney fanatic - in fact, my roommate at the time was and she turned me on to working for Disney during the holiday season of '08.
    I firmly believe in the saying "treat others the way you wish to be treated" and it thoroughly shows itself when you're a Disney employee. Disney treats their employees fantastically, and the "magic" follows through by hiring the right people to represent their "brand" values and standards. I loved all the people I worked with, and even behind the scenes you can see specific morals and values these people have that are clearly the reason they were hired.

    Disney magic is made by people who have had the right experiences and want to share them with you. Disney is almost more of a way of life for some people rather than a place to go on vacation.

  2. Disney is DEFINITELY a way of life... way more than just some entertaining movies and a fun vacation. There's a message: something that draws us in. I honestly believe that almost anyone can relate to something Disney!

    SO jealous you worked for Disney! Glad to hear that the magic exists even behind the scenes!

  3. just came back from a disney vacation and we spent every night in downtown night in particular i found myself pointing our all their branding to my friend - even the tiniest details, like the spouts on the fountain for kids to run through were in the shape of mouse ears. they're branding is extensive, thorough, meticulous and GENIOUS. you don't even realize half the time you're brain is being invaded with their logo. do i love it? hate it?..little of both but hey it works.