Marketing the Walt Disney Company

Posted on September 22nd, 2017

The Walt Disney Company is currently number 52 on the Fortune 500 list and has continued to grow. While no one would argue that it is an extremely successful company, it also provides incredible memories and experiences for its customers. They are greatly diverse when it comes to what they offer. From Movies to video games, to the theme parks, (and not to mention thousands of branded products that you can buy at any store), we are going to take a look at the marketing of Disney. We will find out what kind of tricks and tips they use to continue to be a successful company and put their brand into every home.


Walt Disney was a pioneer in many aspects for film and video. Disney has continued to do this and has pretty much mastered how to create incredible movies, commercials, and YouTube videos. We are going to break down each of these categories of video and look at how Disney markets each of them.


The Big Screen – Film

The first things that come to mind when you think Disney are the movies. They have been creating movies for nearly 100 years, starting with Snow White. From a marketing standpoint, Disney has worked nonstop to engrain their movie characters into our culture and everyday life. If you look in your home, you will probably find a handful of items that have Disney movie charters on them. Ariel (The Little Mermaid) and Elsa (Frozen) are as familiar to our culture as celebrities, and probably even more so. Disney does this by creating partnerships and consistency. They don’t want you to just see their brand in the theater. This is really what has set them apart from many of their competitors, one being DreamWorks. Disney has partnered with an enormous variety of companies, like Hot Wheels and Craft, so that no matter what you are buying, you will see their brand. This is incredibly desirable.

While your company may never be at the level of Disney, partnerships are still extremely valuable. However, they need to be mutually beneficial to work. Disney gets to grow their brand, and Hot Wheels gets to sell more toys because they have “Cars” characters. The same goes for your company, so find ways to partner with other companies or brands to make it mutually beneficial for each of you.

Another way they market is with nostalgia. They know this is an incredibly powerful motivator. Disney has used this as a core for their business and their marketing strategy. This last couple of years they have released a new Star Wars movie, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty (Maleficent), and Jungle Book. Over the next few years, they are going to release new versions of almost every animated classic they have. They do this because of nostalgia. They know that so many people grew up watching Lion King, and will go to watch the new one because of nostalgia. Disney isn’t the only company to do this; many companies also use this as a marketing tactic. It is incredibly powerful and for good reason.


The Small Screen – Commercials

Disney embraced TV from very early on, and has continued to invest heavily in marketing through it. They own ESPN, ABC, and multiple Disney channels, but they also market with commercials. Many of the best have been focused around their theme parks, such as Disney World. There have been many iconic and great commercials released over the years, here are some of them:

Good Life Disney Commercial

Staff Member Commercial

Dream Big Princess


Something that they all have in common is memories. They pull at your heart strings by showing families and fun. They are trying to appeal to the emotional level and they are usually successful. Also, if you have gone before, they want to bring back good feelings, and generate the desire to go back. This is a form of re-marketing. The internet has just allowed for this to become more effective.


The Smallest Screen? – Online Video 

This is a comparatively new medium for Disney, but they have done just as good a job on the internet as the rest of their marketing strategy. They have a variety of YouTube channels, as well as active Facebook pages for nearly every brand they have. Disney recognizes that internet marketing is an incredible tool, and they have the ability to touch their customers nearly every day. Keeping their videos short, they understand people generally won’t dedicate a huge amount of time to watching them online. The videos they produce are at an incredibly high level. They treat them like they would anything else they create.

One of the most important parts of any Internet presence is providing valuable and interesting content to followers without trying to just sell to them non-stop. Disney does this perfectly. Their content is fun, interesting, and low pressure. They show behind the scenes of popular attractions and talk about events. They keep followers engaged by posting interesting content. This is what any business should do. It doesn’t just need to be about what you sell, telling them to do business with you. Provide good, valuable content, and you will help build loyal customers. Video sets you, or any business, apart from the competitors. A video says a million words and is something any business should take advantage of.


Theme Parks

The Disney theme parks are the most successful theme parks in the world. Every year they entertain millions upon millions of visitors, but how do they do this? There are many answers to this question, which all include aspects that any business can take inspiration from.


Be the destination

Disney has done an amazing job at creating destination locations. Disney invests millions of dollars in keeping current. They are always updating so every time someone visits, there are new things to do. Many businesses can do this too. Often, restaurants, bars, theaters, etc. market themselves as the place to be. Having this perception in an area is incredibly valuable. This requires hype, marketing, and effort, but can really benefit a business.


Attention to detail

This is something that Disney excels at, but any business can do it. They want every customer to be happy and have the best experience possible. To do this, they pay attention to the details and put the customer first. They then market this aspect of their business. They want people to know they can expect the best, and pay for it. If you can become known as the company that pays attention to the small stuff and provides the best product in your area, you will see growth.


Diversified marketing channels

This is how they do it. Disney uses nearly every marketing channel available. Some are Twitter, YouTube, TV, magazines, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Billboards, just to name a few. The amazing thing is, they don’t have just one of each channel, they have dozens! They utilize every option available to them, because they know it works. The issue that we see with many local businesses is that they think marketing doesn’t matter or work. They don’t devote time or money to it. The opposite of this is true. Disney is constantly adapting and coming up with creative ways to use the available marketing networks. Anyone can do this. Many of these options are very low priced. For example, a Facebook page is free. The same is true for Instagram, and video. They just take some time.


This is just a brief overview of how Disney markets itself. There is a lot to emulate, and there are many ideas that can be applied to any business. We would encourage you to look at your own marketing and see if you are telling a story, doing it consistently, and across a large variety of channels. Do these things, and you should see results.