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  Is Disney Doomed?
 Disney appeals to our childhood. They will always be favoured by kids will surely keep a preferred spot in the minds of adults. If only they live up to meet our expectations to visualize our common fantasies. 
Jeff van Dijk, Client Service Director, FutureBrand - December 1, 2003
 Disney could survive on the "classics" if it needed to. They get a new audience every day! But where has the imagination gone that prevents us adding some value today? 
Anonymous - December 1, 2003
 I don't like Disney, but I don't have kids and I'm a staunch Warner Brothers supporter. Disney conjures up words in my mind that, as a brand building enthusiast, make my skin crawl: exploitation, commercialization and manipulation. 
Anonymous - December 1, 2003
 Disney is milking their theme park business--to the detriment of their brand. There is no argument that Disney is a pop culture icon in the U.S. However, I have been there three times in the past three years, and the substance is not there. The rides, with a few exceptions, are dated and boring. I don't know where all the revenue is going, but it is not into reivesting into their themepark business to keep it on top.

In my opinion, the Disney brand made its name on two key factors: iconic movies/characters and innovative technology in the themeparks. While one could argue over the impact of the old characters and the new, Disney is now inarguably a technological follower in their theme parks. They are so far behind Universal and other themepark brands in terms of ride technology/excitement that it may not be feasible for Disney to catch up to (let alone surpass) their competition to reclaim that portion of their heritage.

Without the technological/innovation edge, the Disney brand will diminish. Bottom line: my experience over the past three years has turned me from a fan to an indifferent spectator. My family and I will not be returning to Disney any time soon. 

Steve Santangelo, SVP, Strategy and Branding, Mangos - December 1, 2003
 When I think of Disney, I think of imagination. Disney is a source that guides us to a place we've never been but always wanted to be; it allows us to escape the harsh realities of the world. As long as we have hope and an imagination, we'll have Disney. 
Amy - December 1, 2003
 The essential element of disney's marketing success has been its ability to connect with the young and the 'young at heart'. The success of disney won't be determined by their rides or their parks. But rather by their ability to make sure that their mascots remain in tune with the times and if situation requires create new ones like Nemo which are able to relate to the newer segments. 
jassim ali, student, The Times School Of Marketing - December 1, 2003
 Universal has in no way the same nostaglia that Disney conjures in peoples' minds. That said, I agree with keeping up with technological changes but Disney, lest we forget, connotes family, children, fun, and in my view, more based on the 'fair' of yesteryear rather than hip, tres-current, techno-gyzmo type of park. Its parks are an extension of what we all grew up with: great children's characters with a dose of adult material. If Disney's sales are up to $7B over last quarter, even with dismal tourism rates, there's something to be said about that. I've been to Disney once and as an adult, I had a great time.

Parents with children who witness the glow in their eyes when they arrive is part of the brand experience. People will go to Disney for different reasons as their first visit and possibly even different reasons for subsequent visits as their expectations, of course, depending on time elapsed, are different.

In the end, Disney is a very strong brand with enough brand equity to run for quite some time. I think their changes need to reflect today's shrinking but ever-changing demographic but not to directly compete with, say, Universal; I think they're not exactly on the same wave length. 

Nicholas di Cuia, Creative Director, Ferrand Communications Inc. - December 1, 2003
 Setting aside the issues of multiple entertainment businesses (theme parks, tv, etc.) and focusing on its bread and butter, movies, Disney appears to be in more than a bit of trouble. Pirates of the Caribbean demonstrated that the company has the potential to mine its heritage and build on an already respected brand. Haunted Mansion shows that this may be a fluke. In order to turn out reliable hits, Disney has had to turn to an outside partner, Pixar, which is a near admission that the "magic" no longer resides within the company. It strikes me as unwise to use a 3rd party as a foundational component of any company's brand equity, perhaps even more so in Disney's case. 
Todd Walker, student, NYU Stern School of Business - December 1, 2003
 Disney has always had the corner on the tourist market, in my opinion. If they're smart, they'll keep quality #1 and keep tourists coming back. That's what has always distiguished them from the others, in my book. 
Anonymous - December 1, 2003
 Disney is in deep trouble...and reading the comments posted so far gives a great indication why. Yes, the brand appeals to adults who have happy memories of Disney magic--but to today's kids, Disney is just another blip on the entertainment screen. And, unfortunately, not a very innovative or exciting one.

If Wall Street is the only voice Disney cares to listen to--cutting Imagineering to the bone; nickel and diming new attraction development (c'mon--putting "Soaring Over California" in Florida?? Why not "Soaring over Florida"??), the brand will be history. Maybe not in the next ten years, but certainly by the time this generation starts looking for places to take their kids. But hey--by then, the current regime will have pocketed their bonuses and will be long gone.

The number one problem with the Mouse is that the current leadership has no sense of stewardship of a beloved brand. It's just "Show me the money". 

Anonymous - December 1, 2003
 Years ago (before Eisner), the only way to get your mouse fix was to go to the park(s). Today, every mall in America hawks the Disney brand, making the Disney Resort(s) less desirable as a destination vacation. As a child growing up on the east coast, I dreamed of the day when I could get to California and go to Disneyland. Aah, the once elusive mouse. He's now in every American's backyard, which has served to make the Disney brand less magical. 
Anonymous - December 1, 2003
 They have their work cut out for them. Steve Jobs and Co. over at Pixar are going to cut them out completely, which is going to hurt their future video/dvd sales, as well as hurt new merchandising and theme park idea rides. As well, ABC needs some serious help, although I'm intrigued by the Mindshare deal that is happening. They need some creative blood pumped in there, and I'm not sure they're going to get it. 
Anonymous - December 1, 2003
 I worked twice at Walt Disney World as an International Programs participant. It was surprising to see that Disney is falling behind. They haven't evolved with the market, they are falling behind, because today's consumer is far more sophisticated and they haven't realized it. 
Anon - December 2, 2003
 It’s very non-me (and maybe also non-Brandchannel) to cut and clip from other stories. But the following (from today’s is I think very relevant to this discussion, and has affected my judgement on the subject that is being debated. I’m still formulating my views; but in the interim, here’s the story…

'Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney and vice-chairman of the entertainment giant, has resigned and called on chairman Michael Eisner to do the same.

Mr.Disney attacked Mr.Eisner's leadership in a letter released ahead of a Disney board meeting this week.

"You and I have had serious differences of opinion about the... style of management in the company," he wrote. He said the Walt Disney company had "lost its focus, its creative energy and its heritage" under Mr. Eisner. "You have driven a wedge between me and those I work with... I find this intolerable", Mr.Disney said.

Mr.Disney has worked for the company since 1967, and led the expansion of Disney's animation department since 1984. He has been angered what he sees as Mr.Eisner's strategic blunders. In particular, Disney has been hit by problems at the television network ABC, which it acquired in the mid-1990s. And its theme park division, which Mr.Disney said had been run over-cautiously by Mr.Eisner, has suffered falling attendances.

"You have tried to build parks 'on the cheap' and they show it and attendance figures reflect it," Mr.Disney said in his letter. He bemoaned what he characterised as the "rapacious, soul-less" corporate culture introduced by Mr.Eisner, under which long-term public trust and affection had been sacrificed for the sake of short-term financial gain. ' 

Matthew Lonsdale, Director-In-Charge of Disney Thoughts, - December 2, 2003
 But good management comes and goes at Disney and they always pull through. Eisner pulled them out of a previous slump and it seems like another strong leader could do it again.

How damaging can that be to the overall brand? I don't think it will register more than a blip. But it does allow the competitors to creep up into position maybe. 

Disney observer but not fan - December 2, 2003
 'Cheese Running Out for Enchanted Mouse!'
- Well its time that the World's best family brand realize its vulnerabilities and clean up its act.
Food for Thought -
*The biggest blockbuster of the Year "Finding Nemo" was in collobaration with Pixar who might not (in all probability) renew their contract
*The fate of "Haunted Mansion" should be viewed as a red flag - Pirates of the Caribbean was saved by Johnny Depp but how long can '1 Man Teams' pull Disney out of its compacency.
*Families have long been faithful to Disney but with a new found attraction to Xtreme rides and 'Universal' competition Disney's target market will be relegated to International consumers and tourists
*We know the fragile state of tourism today

Its time for an EFFECTIVE TEAM to take hold of Disney and steer them towards tougher times with better products to meet with changing times. 

Mario Sundar, President, Craig MBA Student Association - CSU Fresno - December 2, 2003
 Disney Doomed? Yeah right.

Anyone (and yes, I mean anyone) that believes the Mouse will wither in the trap he's caught in simply misses the point of business - nevermind the marketing debacle. To expect every new feature film to be a blockbuster is absurd. To expect themepark rides and revenue to forever advance is equally myopic. One bad year. One bad decade. Disney is fortified.

I’m a young man. Yet, I can still remember the Saturday morning specials that highlighted the world’s disbelief in everything Walt attempted, from the now famous technological accomplishment of the Monorail to the idea of going to an amusement park buried in (formerly) suburban Los Angeles. It seemed everything he did was doomed for failure. Now again…he’s doomed. Surely you all jest.

In my mind the question is more of, “could they be in a better situation?” The answer is, certainly. Things can always be better. Equally as poignant; things can always be worse. In the grande scheme of the corporate climate across the world, Disney is in good hands. Eisner’s reign can be argued on both sides of the ‘creative’ pulpit, I’ll grant that aside. But what cannot be argued is that Disney is better off now than prior to Eisner’s administration. This is simply fact. To address a single point; Pixar was a masterstroke. They created their own market and subsidized it. Sheer brilliance. Pixar is who they are because of this dynamic. Disney was smart. They outsourced to a technology company much the same as they outsource post-production and direction (at times). All of the creative development and importantly, distribution, are still, and likely always will be, done in-house – this is the core strength of the brand; the marketing and intellectual property. Lest you all forget Disney is part (a large part) owner in Pixar.

Put into perspective…here’s a similar exaggeration: Las Vegas is doomed.

Phooey. We’re all hooked. You show me a parent that doesn’t dream of taking their little tot to meet Mickey, and I’ll show you a company in the throes of ruin. Neither of those do we have here. 

Jayson L. Truttmann - December 3, 2003
 I believe Disney has such a strong positioning and recall that it is going to take a lot more than a mere boardroom fracas to doom the brand. Whatever happens our parents grew up with Disney and then took their kids to Disney. It has and will remain numero uno. Its strength lies in its positioning - the magic kingdom where "everybody is happy, god is in his heaven and all is right with the world". Now isn't that something we all yearn for, especially in these extremely turbulent times?

Want to escape the harsh realities of life - Disney offers you access to a fantasy land you wish existed. 

Hemant Patwardhan - December 3, 2003
 Well, Disney brand is powerful. But no matter how big or strong a brand is, what is basic is the product. If the product is not 'exceeding' consumer needs (to put it in Disney words) then profit will not come. To try to sustain sales (of tickets for movies or park entrances, for example) only based in brand reputation and not by offering great quality products slowly will push the consumer away. And that is what is happening to Disney now. They are not keeping up by offering cutting edge products as it happened before (in our parents time).

Disney was one of the companies that dictated the way of a whole industry and now is not. This is not a phenomenon that is ocurring today, if you had worked with them you would know that this is happening at least for the last 8 years. Yes Eisner helped to push it up, but tell me what happened to his great team of creatives and strategists -- Jeff Katzenberg, for example left the company and since then Disney movie magic has not been the same.

To compare it to another All American Company and to another All American Leader, see what happened to General Electric in Jack Welch's hands. GE is now a world leading company a top ten Fortune 500 company. Compare their advance to Disney and see what has happened with Disney in Eisner's hands. They both came into CEO position by the same time, even Eisner has been 'in power' more years than Welch and see where is one, and where is the other. Disney was a world leading company. It is not anymore. Reputation does not push sales up, innovative products do. That's what Walt Disney did in his time and that's the legacy he left, principles that were not followed. The essence of the brand was taken for granted and substituted by Eisner with repeated 'formulas' only to produce profit. As a leader of a company one cannot forget that what sells is a concept, and what Disney is now is just a bad copy of what made it once successful. 

Isaac Guerrero Jaimes, WDW International Program participant - December 3, 2003
 Disney dosen't seem to be a new age brand. The managers there don't seem to be in-sync with changing leisure activities. What is their share among the affluent in emerging markets? Sony Playstation is a great new product Disney could learn from. 
Ranjeet Kate - December 5, 2003
 The reason I had mentioned the 2 movies Disney produced this year was that the very reason for Disney releasing those movies was their status as theme park rides. The fluctuating success of those movies only goes to prove that Disney cannot provide that rate of succesful movies being produced from its stable to enhance its theme park rides in the minds of customers. Moreover the trend of the summer blockbuster is changing the face of the theme park environment with rides such as Spider Man, The Hulk, Jurassic Park, Shrek and Universal has capitalized on their popularity.

As for Disney's most succesful recent movies such as Toy Story 1,2, A bug's life and Finding Nemo - all produced with a 50-50 relationship with Pixar Disney takes 60% of the profits and retains ownership and sequel rights! Eisner has expressed hope of continuing the relationship but fact is Pixar is talking with other studios about a distribution agreement that would allow it to own its own films.

Disney is a world class brand that cannot lose its brand quality easily but it does not seem competitive enough to improve its performances consistently in the future and internal squabbles between Eisner and the Disney clan isnt making things easier. 

Mario V. Sundar, President, Craig MBASA - December 7, 2003
 the mouse is out of copyright now... will there be a rush of other people to cash in on him? - i don't see any evidence of it... And my kids recognised the Pixar brand as the exciting thing about Nemo. 
paul youlten, trouble maker, Immediart - December 7, 2003
 There is absolutely no question that Disney has weakened their brand. Once a universally-recognized seal of approval of quality family entertainment in every media, the brand itself now stands for virtually nothing. In Eisner's pursuit to rule all media, he has taken a brand that meant something and turned it into another media brand that represents everything and anything. Theme park attendance is down, ABC shows and ratings are dismal, and the most creative movies Disney offers comes from partners like Pixar rather than from inside its own organization. For a Disney fan and observer like me, the last few years have been difficult to see and are very reminiscent of the company's period in the late 70s and early 80s. 
August, Ray, Fullhouse Media - December 8, 2003
 Disney is Doomed. Eisner has lost sight of what the Disney brand truly is: consumer satisfaction. Instead, he is driven solely by pursuit of "Most Profitable Revenue" (MPR). Eisner has been exploiting the brand value instead of cultivating it. Eisner has forgotten that the brand is about "them" (the customers), not his own vainglory. Eisner appears to be ignorant about how brands really get implemented. And worst of all, it's out there for everyone to see. 
Arlene Teck, Chief Kicker, KickButt Branding! - December 8, 2003
 It seems that the main demand driver of consumers has changed over the years. People were searching for an experience, whether it was unprecedented, fairytale animated films, fantasy filled theme park experiences or a break from the norm to be with cherished cartoon characters,

Disney no longer solely satisfies these demands. Competition has broadened the market and Disney has lost focus. Universal has more roller coasters in their theme parks and DreamWorks and Pixar are releasing blockbuster animations. Disney's films still make profits, but they don't convey the Disney experience (partially because they include new characters and forget about Micky, et. al) This disassociates the theme parks from the newest movie releases. It all needs to be linked together, like it was in the past, to gain the full effect of the brand and truly complement the business strategy.

Sales may be up, but the role the brand plays in securing intangible assets has decreased.

Furthermore, consumers probably don't realize all the other assets Disney owns which, if underperforming, takes a toll on their bottom line. Not only are the theme parks an expense but the television, radio and cable assets need to be kept in line as well. The brand incorporates all of these assets.

Unfortunately, Walt Disney Jr. has lost his will to continue building Disney, so hopefully Michael Eisner, Micky, Snow White and Dumbo will take charge and make some magic happen. 

Peter Dolchin, Brand Valuation, Interbrand Corp. - December 8, 2003
 Interesting question...but what is having more of an impact on public perception is the Board of Directors in-fighting. When we, the public hear that members of the Disney family are resigning from the Board to show no confidence in Eisner, we are now alerted to serious problems in the Disney empire.

By allowing this display to progress outside of the boardroom and into the public arena can only damage the reputation and image of the once solid Disney brand. 

Monika Evers, image architect, Evers Image Architects - December 8, 2003
 Disney is tired. They outsource innovation to Pixar. Sales are up because they raise prices. 
Anonymous - December 11, 2003
 Disney Corporation is more than just the Mickey Mouse ears. In fact, the sub-brands of the Disney Empire are what will really support the corporation for years to come. A nation's (and world's) love for the "Magic Kingdom" is not as strong as it used to be, and so Disney looks to other sources to reinforce their brand, including their sports franchises, movie studios, and other ventures. 
Tim Bott - December 24, 2003
 Having been a young visitor to Disneyworld in the early eighties all I can say is 'they killed the dream'. This isn't a case of me getting a dose of reality and cynicism in my old age but the move to Europe made everything Disney stands for less special in the minds of many. They took their eye off the ball and invested in heavily in re-creating the physical experience. The trick was to invest in ways to bring dream to life. By exploring other avenues (those that they had and still have in their asset portfolio) they could have brought the brand to life in so many more imaginative ways. We deserve more than a cheap imitations and ill fitting animal suits. The Disney brand was synonymous with magic and entertainment, something that was real but still lived in the mind of millions. Something needs to be done to re-ignite the magic and fun in the brand. By finding out what is in the minds of those millions they might not make the same mistake twice. 
Joe Hale - January 2, 2004
  back to debate