The more I watch the Disney Channel (don't judge; my kids are animals and need distraction so they don't hatch their plans of global domination), the more I respect Disney as a marketing organization.
Mobile? They got it. Social? Please. Adver-gaming? Sport, they pretty much invented it.
No, what really blows my mind is how they manage to integrate everything.
Disney keeps most of its clips under lock and key, so let me share a recent bit of adver-torial from the channel. China Anne McClain, star of the Disney Channel show "Ant Farm" travels to Disneyland with her real-life family. After riding Space Mountain and the like, China and a Disney Channel host visit Downtown Disney, a shopping and entertainment complex attached to Disneyland. Among other things, China and her host peruse Mickey Mouse t-shirts at a clothing boutique there.
As Jon Stewart might say, "see what they did there?"
Disney integrates their content brands and locations as perhaps no other brand has--or even as no other brand can. Most brands do not have their own cruise lines or theme parks in four countries. More to the point, content and location brands freely mix to the point of complete overlap. Characters like Phineas and Ferb show up at the theme parks just as the theme parks make appearances on TV.
On the one hand, I congratulate Disney for actually doing what all marketers say they do--integrate their offerings seamless. On the other hand, I suspect they've taken it too far.
Call it one parent's opinion, but Disney's live-actions shows really, really irritate me. Non-watchers of kids TV may say "so what? You're not the intended audience. And while you're at it, shut off the TV once in a while." However, I've also watched more than my fair share of live-action programs on Nickelodeon (pace, "iCarly!") and PBS, and they seem to manage to create shows that kids and adults can watch together.
More specifically, I find Disney's shows irritating because they tend to focus on one or more smart-ass kids who over-emote for an entire 22 minutes. Y'know that kid in school who had to stand out in every class? I suspect Disney put all of those kids in a room and then picked out the 10 who stood out the most from that crowd to cast their shows.
Further, I think Disney comes by the precocious brat strategy with intent. Unlike Nick or PBS, Disney markets these kids beyond their shows. Most notably, Selena Gomez, star of "Wizards of Waverly Place," has put out a record on the Hollywood Label (part of Disney) and appeared on other Disney channel programs. But even some actors with smaller roles have moved between Disney and ABC-TV, which Disney of course owns.
In other words, I think they use the shows as marketing vehicles to create stars for future use. I hate to invoke Godwin's Law, but it's kinda like "The Boys from Brazil" with slightly more singing and dancing.
Of course, you can't argue with success. Disney Channel has begun to make inroads on Nickelodeon's stranglehold on kids. (Wait, that doesn't sound right, but you know what I mean.) And the opinion of one annoyed dad doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
Nevertheless, I've got to take my mouse-ear cap to the brand for integrating as no one else has.