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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?

9 thoughts on “Let the Memories Begin, Disney Parks Launch Latest Promotion (part two)”

  1. To me, this could have been a fun enough side-campaign for Disney — but the fact that they chose to hype it up as a big announcement and such a huge initiative, knowing full well what really gets their fans excited, shows a complete and utter disregard for their consumers.

    From a social media standpoint, I feel like Disney really dropped the ball here. Both their blog and FB pages are FULL of negativity right now from angry fans and Disney has not done 1 thing to acknowledge this sentiment, choosing to completely ignore it as if everyone is praising the campaign.

    To me, Disney just seems really out of touch with this one and even moreso it just feels like they simply are not listening. It felt like a bunch of old men in suits coming out with charts while saying, ‘We did the math! This is what you wanted! Now give us your money, ok???’

    The fact that moments after the announcements they actually published their market research results on their consumer-facing blog only reinforces this… how tacky!

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  3. I mentioned this before (on my blog) but I akin this year’s promotion to be more like the Magical Gatherings promotion that Disney had a few years back. It’s not meant to be some big, grand thing…it’s just meant to get people (and by people, I mean non Disney fanatics) to hopefully remember a previous vacation to WDW or DL and think…wow….that was a fun time…we should look into doing that again this year.

    Plus, it’s easy to see what with the larger scale Celebrations we’ve had the last few years, a celebration of this magnitude was bound to disppoint many. They all can’t be Happiest Celebration on Earth, Year of a Million Dreams, or Celebrate You. Disney’s had some large scale promos the past few years. They were bound to have a more low key one sooner or later. This year, it’s going to be more low key. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. (Though some would disagree.)

    I think that the nail was hit on the head though with the comments about how Disney hyped this presentation to be something FANTASTIC! I’ve been around the Disney community long enough to know that while Disney may think something’s fantastic, more than likely, it is not going to be what us Disney fans would like to see. (IE…new attractions, new updates, new restaurants, etc). This marketing campaign shouldn’t have had this huge hulabaloo associated with it.

    Disney, unfortunately, set themselves up for disappointment among the fans by announcing a marketing campaign in this way. Celebrating a marketing campaign this way was silly…and all the fans knew it. That’s why there’s such a backlash against this whole thing.

    As for the actual campaign, as a whole, I think is a solid one. (Though really, it could use a bit more oomph, in my eyes, to make it be a stand out idea). I think it will do a decent job of getting guests to visit both resorts, which is the goal that Disney wants anyway.

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  6. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say, about the good and bad points of this campaign. I was a bit disappointed (maybe more than a bit) when there was no mention of the 40th of WDW, as I’m 40 next year too and have always loved the fact that WDW celebrates the same milestones as I do!

    I’m not sure I want to go all the way to WDW just to see a slide show on the castle, cool as it may be. Besides, only the people in the front will get to see it anyway. I do like the social networking side of it, but I feel that the marketing team had the great idea and then were left with not much to do in the parks themselves to carry on the promo. Let’s see how it goes.

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