Let the Memories Begin, Disney Parks Launch Latest Promotion (part two)

Part One of this article is here.

The thought behind naming the new marketing campaign “Let the Memories Begin” is a sound one. Ypartnership is generally right on the money with their travel studies. Families are cutting back on extravagances, preferring instead to share an experience they can treasure together for a lifetime. That’s the value proposition, as they say in the biz. Disney Parks believe they’re in the business of selling memories and they want families to know that some of the best memories are to be found at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. We Disney fans know that already, but sometimes the general public needs a gentle reminder.

For Disney the value of this promotion is split. The first standard is will the slogan and ad campaign serve as a great advertising pitch to attract guests to visit in the next 60-90-180-360 days? Secondly, will it provide good show for guests who are already in the park? A third consideration would be, is this the type of promotion that generates enough buzz on its own that it becomes a reason to visit the parks itself. Finally, there is all that MBA mumbo-jumbo about conversion rates, length of stay, and product-mix. In theory a good marketing campaign will give a nice bump to all those numbers as well.

Looking at this purely as a marketing effort, Disney Parks is already facing some long odds. Travel is up, but people are choosing to stay close to home, or making one short trip when they might have visited twice in the past. This means Disney Parks have to attract more people to come down, sell more hotel rooms, more magic your way tickets, just to make their numbers. It remains to be seen if this promotion can do any better than the previous ones, which I’m sure the general public have already forgotten.

As for the domestic Disney parks, we’re still looking at reduced staffing and spending levels that resulted from severe budget cut-back at the start of the great recession. So, you’ll note that this promotion takes very little labor to implement, doesn’t involve any fancy give aways, or discounts.

To me the worst part of this promotion is that it seems directly tied to one of the park’s great cash cows – Photo Pass. So close, it almost appears a crass attempt to sell more $0.35 photo prints for $16.95. I generally put Photopass in the category of cotton candy, sandwich board signs, and hard sells at the ticket counter. Disney should stay away from that county fair flavor. That said, I’ve seen Disney survey results that say guests like Photo Pass. At least those guests who prefer not to bring their own camera with them, or want a genuinely happy family photo in front of a major park icon. And, by and large, I’ve never felt pressured to buy a photo, they do want you to take that silly card, however. I’ve got dozens of those things laying around the house.

I digress.

I am not at all sure this is the type of promotion that brings people to the parks just to see it. Photos projected on the castle or small world? Blah, I can watch slide shows at home. That doesn’t seem very magical to me. I’m sure the actual effect will be very nice. (check out this video which contains similar technology to what Disney will be using.) I hope it augments, not replaces any fireworks. Nonetheless, I can’t see a multi-media slideshow being an effective draw to bring guests into the park. It would have to be one amazing show.

Things I think Disney got right:

  • The Social Media element of this promotion is brilliant. With every ‘share’ Disney potentially reaps hundreds, if not thousands, of marketing value.
  • The Making Memories theme is good. I think it will tie-in well to park and resort literature. There could be in-park opportunities to make special memories.
  • The new video projection technology is pretty neat. I can see lots of uses for that across the resort.

Some disappointments:

  • Next October is the 40th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom. I didn’t see anything in this announcement mentioning a celebration of that fact. I think it deserves a year long promotion of its own.
  • Not even a HINT of an answer to WWoHP
  • No word on how this will be celebrated in the non-MK parks (Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT Center, and California Adventure).
  • From the press event, it’s very obvious that Tom Bergeron is no Walt Disney. (A crotch joke on TV, really?) I hope the Disney company finds a better spokesperson for these events going forward.

While this is not the big promotion (grand themes, car give-aways, new parades, etc) that Disney fans long for, I think it has some strengths. Based on the recent track record, and the needs of a company feeling its way through a deep recession, I’m not sure we should expect much more.

So what do you think of the promotion? Does it have you excited? More importantly, will it entice your neighbors to visit?

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