When you think of some of the most successful companies in the world, there are many that come to mind, but there is no doubt that among the top of the list would be the Walt Disney Company, having some of the most popular movies and TV shows as well as multiple theme parks. There have been many factors that have played into the success of Disney since Walt Disney started it. One factor, of course, was Walt’s ability, from the beginning, to convince people into buying into his visions. This skill of his translates into one of the company’s key factors to its success – understanding its target market.
Walt Disney was a smart man who understood who he was trying to reach with his films and his parks. A few of his quotes that illustrate this include: “Animation offers a medium of storytelling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world”; “You’re dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway”; “We believed in our idea – a family park where parents and children could have fun together”; “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.”
As these quotes illustrate, Disney aimed not only for children with his cartoons and movies but also adults who were still children at heart and could appreciate his films and learn from their stories. That has continued to be the driving force behind Disney – appeal to children and adults alike with family-friendly entertainment that both will enjoy. And they have had some great success with that.
Things began to lag for the company a bit after the turn of the millennium, however, as Pixar began to make strides. But rather than try to bolster the company from within, they decided to buy Pixar instead and followed that up a few years later by buying Marvel. These were some bold moves, but it shows some thought and is still in keeping with the idea of appealing to the young since Pixar is an animation studio and Marvel is a comic book company. The same can be said of their acquisition of LucasFilm.
One of Disney’s most recent successful animated movies was Frozen. Everyone is familiar with the Elsa and the song “Let It Go.” The success of the movie is an illustration of what has made Disney movies so popular from the beginning: strong female protagonists, great stories, and wonderful songs. All the ingredients needed to catch a young girl’s heart and a parent’s wallet. But with the movies Tangled and Brave, they realized you can’t just leave out the boys from the equation or you lose a good piece of the pie, and so marketing trailers for Frozen included the snowman Olaf with humorous lines and no music in an effort to appeal to boys. They also managed to use the songs and soundtrack from the Frozen movie to reach varying demographics in the market and made plans to expand on the movie with a Broadway play and an “On Ice” show.
With a recent hit like Frozen, and the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel, and LucasFilm, Disney has the staying power to reach out to both the young and young at heart for a long time to come with movies and shows certain to be box office hits.
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