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|
|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|
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Nov 2018: A big win for Google this week with the capture of consolidated ad tech and digital platform services for Walt Disney Company, including the soon-to-be-added Fox properties and the group's new streaming platforms. All global digital video and ad serving for Disney properties - including Disney, ABC, ESPN, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, 20th Century Fox, FX and National Geographic - will now be managed via Google. Previously, much of the account was handled by Comcast. Said Google's chief business officer Philipp Schindler, "Together, we plan to build an advanced video experience for Disney that will transcend devices, platforms, and living rooms to bring the magic of premium video content into people’s hearts, minds, and screens - everywhere.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Nov 2018: Walt Disney reported record revenues and profits for the year to September, powered by three mammoth movie hits. 'Avengers: Infinity War', 'Black Panther' and 'Incredibles 2' are three of the top four movies globally this year with combined box office in excess of $4.5bn. The Avengers sequel alone topped $2bn, only the fourth movie ever to reach that level in a single year. Parks & Resorts also enjoyed an outstanding year. Group revenues rose 8% to $59.4bn while net income soared by 40% to $12.6bn as a result of lower tax rates. (Pretax income was up a less stellar but still impressive 7%). Though the studio entertainment division tends to grab all the headlines, it remains the smallest of Disney's big three divisions, with annual revenues still under $10bn. That's less than half Media Networks (revs of $24.5bn) and Parks & Resorts ($20.2bn). Consumer Products & Interactive Media slipped back slightly to $4.7bn. The group also unveiled a name for its hotly anticipated streaming service, set for launch next year. This will be Disney+, and will offer a wide variety of general entertainment programming from the Disney, Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel studio divisions, as well as 20th Century Fox and National Geographic following completion of the Fox acquisition. "It will be very brand-centric," said Disney CEO Bob Iger. Iger said that Disney+ will also be available in Europe, and that Hulu - of which Disney will then have majority control - will also be rolled out to international markets.
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.
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