We’ve talked a little about how MSPs can use guerilla marketing tactics to churn up some new business, but there’s another whole side of marketing we’d like to take a look at—big budget marketing. Let’s take some time to look at how the 1 percent marketers live. For that, we need to look at a huge company like Walt Disney.
There are things I never realized about Disney—likely because I was one of the young’uns indoctrinated by them. I had their toys, I watched their movies, and I went to Disneyworld. It was really only until over the holiday break, on Christmas day, that it hit me: Disney’s name is so ubiquitous that everything they do or sell can function as marketing for something else they do or sell. Disney movies sell Disney toys. Disney toys sell more Disney toys, which sells the very idea of Disney characters and Disneyland, which sells other Disney vacations, more Disney toys and all of that warm and wonderful magic associated with Disney. The reason it struck me on Christmas, was because Disney was there with me and my family.
Every year, Disney puts together a gigantic Christmas parade. I believe it’s actually recorded ahead of time, but ABC (owned by Disney) airs it Christmas morning. It’s recorded in two locations. One comes from Disneyland in California and one from Disneyworld in Florida and the broadcast jumps back and forth. Each is hosted by a different celebrity and viewers get to see what’s going on in each of the parades. Each event has huge, elaborate musical numbers with hundreds of cheerleaders and marching band members, confetti, loud things, and a few songs from beautiful pop singers to ice the cake. It was quite a spectacle, and it was being funneled right into my sister’s living room for my nieces, aged three and seven.
For me, it was way too much. It was so bright and colorful it hurt my eyes. The celebrity hosts chattered like espresso-fueled hummingbirds. They had each of your favorite Disney princesses and princes on various floats smiling a little too wide and blowing kisses. They sang Christmas songs as Santa waved and ho-hoed. It was a Christmas-flavored saccharine injection aimed straight at my nieces’ impressionable minds. The two girls would take short breaks from playing with their new presents (guess who made some of them) to see what the screen had to offer. They absorbed beautiful princess, confetti, and oddly-placed daytime fireworks, and crazy music numbers. In between each of these musical numbers in the broadcast, there were ads for everything Disney: ads for their cruises, their adventure vacations, upcoming films, toys, and of course, their theme parks. The entire broadcast—everything that popped on the screen—was just one stupendous, gigantic ad for their massive corporation.
From a marketer’s perspective, this was the most ingenious marketing strategy conceivable. In many ways, between their toys, vacations, films, and everything that is Disney, they totally own Christmas. Christmas is the biggest consumer holiday in the world and where is Disney? They’re on your TV and in your children’s hands. They make their way into your home and almost become the very essence of the day by providing kids not only with new Disney toys and movies, but the festive backdrop of Christmas songs and elaborate parades. Because of Disney entertainment, your TV becomes a fire-hose of Christmas spirit, coating every single person in honey-shrapnel of festive delight.
Disney’s widespread holiday influence gives it a huge piece of the Christmas market share. Some might argue that in certain families Disney is Christmas, or at least, there isn’t much of a Christmas without Disney around. Whatever your perspective or whatever the influence Disney has on your particular family, it’s hard to not to see their power. Disney is amazing because everything they offer points to something else they offer—it’s a giant sugary web of products and offerings that can easily capture a child’s mind. Once they’ve got that child, they’ve got a thousand other things that are equally captivating. Once your kids are in the Disney web, you’re right there with them, buying your kids movie tickets, toys based on movie characters, and so forth. You can love or hate them for it, but they are undeniably fantastic at what they do.
I’d like to wrap this up by saying there’s a lot you can learn from Disney, but when Disney is so big, and an MSP business is small, it’s hard to figure out what that lesson would be. They certainly aren’t average because their ubiquity is really the only marketing strategy they need—their very existence is marketing for them. Of course, being the giant company they are, they have giant marketing budget aimed right at not just marketing around Christmas, but at becoming Christmas. In many ways, they succeed.
Disney does provide an interesting look at large-scale marketing, but that’s really just a game for the big dogs to play. Many of those reading this will probably have to stick with more affordable marketing tactics and worry about “owning Christmas” later.