The Walt Disney Company : advertising & marketing profile

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Disney is almost certainly the world's most widely known and best-trusted entertainment brand. After years of ailing performance following the death of its founder, it found a whole new lease of life in the 1980s by reinventing the concept of the animated family movie. The huge popular success of The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and others encouraged the group to spread its wings into other areas; a key development was the takeover of Capital Cities/ABC to create one of the world's biggest media conglomerates. But by the end of the 1990s a good deal of the shine had come off the company's prestige as the house of mouse was rocked by management rows and lacklustre performance from both its core movies division and the ABC Television Network. The years of rumbling discontent culminated in a rift in the group's board, followed by an unexpected (but unsuccessful) takeover bid from cable giant Comcast. Peace was finally restored in 2005 when divisive CEO Michael Eisner agreed to step down in favour of his deputy Bob Iger. Performance continued to be mercurial for a few years, buffeted by recessionary forces, declines in DVD sales, and several under-performing movie releases. In fact, the group's most consistently profitable subsidiary for several years was not its high-profile movies, parks or ABC divisions but top-rated cable sports network ESPN. Disney finally got into its stride again with the takeover of Marvel and the astonishing success of the various movies inspired by its diverse collection of superheroes. In an even more startling move, it announced a deal to acquire most of entertainment rival 21st Century Fox at the end of 2017 for $66.1bn in stock and debt.

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ABC Network Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney Pictures Disney's California Adventure
Pixar Disney Television
Touchstone Pictures Disney Home Video
Hollywood Pictures Walt Disney Records
Disney Vacation Club Walt Disney Books
Disney Interactive Tokyo Disneyland
Disney Theme Parks Walt Disney Cruises
Disneyland Disney Theatrical
Disneyworld Disneyland Paris
DisneyQuest Hollywood Records

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Sep 2018: Comcast was victorious in a nail-biting blind auction last Saturday for European satellite broadcaster Sky, fighting off a rival bid from Sky's part-owner Fox in partnership with Walt Disney. In an unprecedented move for a business of this size, UK regulators called the auction to end months of bid and counter-bid between the two sides. After two inconclusive early rounds, Comcast seized the prize in the final contest with an offer of £17.28 per share - equivalent to a total price of £30.6bn or around $39bn - against £15.67 from Fox and Disney. As a result, Disney will proceed with the purchase of the other 21st Century Fox assets as planned. Fox has already said it will surrender its existing 39% stake in Sky to Comcast, which has in turn confirmed that Sky will maintain its notional independence. "The consistent theme at Comcast has been letting leaders of our businesses make their own decisions, being decentralised and keeping an entrepreneurial spirit," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said. "We've said this to [Sky CEO] Jeremy [Darroch] and the rest of the Sky team... They will be able to act as an independent company but with the resources of a $150bn company behind them." One hurdle remains: the deal requires majority acceptance by Sky's shareholders; but the decision by Fox to surrender its own 39% stake appears to make full acceptance inevitable.

Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Aug 2018: Further scalps are being taken or are at risk across the media industry in connection with past inappropriate behaviour by notable figures. Disney fired James Gunn, director and chief architect of its highly lucrative Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, after offensive tweets send by him almost a decade ago - before he worked for Disney/Marvel - were uncovered by online commentators. Gunn apologised and agreed that the statements were "stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive" and said they "don't reflect the person I am today". Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and all the other stars of Guardians of the Galaxy published an open letter to Disney asking for Gunn to be reinstated.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th July 2018: Walt Disney promoted Asad Ayaz to the role of chief marketing officer for theatrical division Walt Disney Studios. He was previously SVP, marketing, and succeeds Ricky Strauss who was named as president of content & marketing for Disney's soon-to-launch streaming service.

Adbrands Weekly Update 21st Jun 2018: Walt Disney came back hard to defend its proposed acquisition of Fox entertainment assets. It raised its original offer of $52.4bn in stock to around $71bn, of which half will now be in cash. That's a significant premium to Comcast's $65bn, although it doesn't contain as much cash. Fox immediately accepted the higher price, which it says is superior to Comcast's bid. The Murdoch family are keen to be paid in Disney shares, not just because of the tax implications but the considerable clout it would give them in the merged entity. Fox still thinks the Comcast deal would involve significant regulatory complications, despite the recent approval of AT&T/Time Warner. That's not stopping Comcast, though. Within hours of Disney's increase, it was in talks with its bankers to find ways of increasing its own offer further, perhaps to as high as $80bn. The bidding war isn't over yet.

Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jun 2018: A US court gave an unconditional green light to AT&T's long-delayed $80bn takeover of Time Warner, rejecting the US government's contention that the deal would harm competition and raise prices for consumers. That argument was "gossamer thin", said presiding judge Richard Leon. The approval is expected to open the floodgates for similar such deals between communications companies and content owners. Indeed, within 24 hours of Judge Leon's ruling, Comcast launched a formal counter-bid for the entertainment assets that 21st Century Fox has already agreed to sell to Walt Disney. Comcast's $65bn cash offer is significantly more attractive to most public shareholders (though not necessarily to the Murdoch family) than Disney's $52bn all-stock proposal. Disney must now consider whether to raise it own offer to match.

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