Disney Plans Global Ad Campaign to Revive Theme Parks

29 December 2004

The Walt Disney Company hopes to revive the flagging fortunes of its ailing theme parks division with the Magic Kingdom's first global advertising campaign.

A series of fiftieth birthday parties will mark the anniversary of Disney's first such venture at Anaheim, California, in 1955 - an event touted by the Mouse House as the birth of the theme park business (overlooking, some say, Britain's House of Windsor).

But rosy reminiscence is not the factor underlying the celebrations. The motivating force is an aggressive determination to corral holidaymakers worldwide into the company's ten worldwide theme parks and its two Disney Cruise Line ships.

The US campaign will break during the New Year's Day broadcast of the Tournament of Roses Parade which features Mickey Mouse as grand marshal and a float of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. More ads in Europe and Asia are scheduled for the spring; and the global campaign will run through most of 2005.

But Disney's lips are zipped as to the campaign budget. Ad outlays for its US resorts and theme parks rose 6% in 2003 to $163 million (€119.63m; £84.16m), according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

There is no such taciturnity when it comes to third party comment. Opines Allen Adamson, managing director at WPP Group image consultancy Landor Associates: "The Disney brand is strong but needs some real tending. Now is a good time to spin it to the marketplace in a controlled manner."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff