It takes a very special kind of marketing strategy to create a brand that is synonymous with magic, but that’s exactly what Disney has done. Since 1923, this Disney magic has brought joy and delight to billions of people with carefully curated entertainment and experiences.
Today, Disney’s might is as undeniable as ever.
It’s not only the company’s financial success, furthered by a sequence of smart acquisitions (including Lucasfilm, Marvel, and 20th Century Fox in quick succession), but its steady, consistent marketing.
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Making the move to online media has been no hurdle for this branding juggernaut, which is currently in the process of launching its own bespoke video streaming service, Disney+.
The company has 1011 different digital channels under its umbrella, including ESPN, Good Morning America, and The Bachelorette, making it the most-viewed entertainment and media property in July 2019.
As it continues to dominate the Tubular leaderboards, it’s not only Disney and its acquisitions that are reaping the benefits. Dozens of brands and influencers enjoy symbiotic relationships that help keep the Disney magic alive in its apparel and lifestyle marketing.
From household name companies to independent bloggers, no partnership is off the table.
Here’s how brands both big and small work with Disney to manufacture viral marketing wins.
How Big Brands Celebrated The Lion King and Aladdin
Look no further than 2019’s largest nostalgia-fueled blockbuster films for evidence of Disney magic at work.
May’s Aladdin and July’s The Lion King were each at the center of a huge push involving multiple corporations that worked together so seamlessly, it was difficult to tell where the branding ended and the entertainment began.
For Aladdin, Disney worked with makeup brand Mac to create a complete cosmetics line using the film’s color palette. Mac then sent freebies to influencers (more on them soon) who shared their own inspiring looks on Instagram and YouTube.
Makeup wasn’t the only way to “wear” the movie: Disney also worked with Zales to create a movie-replica jewelry line straight out of the Cave of Wonders. Other partnerships scaled from the ordinary (like a Subway promotion offering free tickets with kids’ meals) to the extraordinary (like Skyspace LA, the world’s tallest observation deck, offering “magic carpet rides” in a helicopter).
There were even more brands on board to promote The Lion King. Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer participated in a “Simba Cam” promotion, where visitors were encouraged to lift their little ones over their heads like Rafiki to appear on the big screen.
General Mills and Dole put Simba and company on foods like cereal and pineapple, granola bars and bananas. Tech companies also got in on the fun: LinkedIn offered a #JustCantWaitToBe contest while Google ran custom promo videos (this one has 3.1M views) showing how to use their search engine to learn more about the movie.
Jeep ran a campaign featuring its cars in the African savannah, including a cameo of Pride Rock, earning 1.4M views.
For the marketing campaigns of both movies, Disney chose to work with brands that understand its core values: immersive entertainment spectacle that permeates into every aspect of its audiences’ lives. Entertainment is as important to each campaign as the product itself.
How Influencers Help Spread the Disney Magic
With a net worth of around $130 billion, Disney may be among the world’s largest companies, but no partnership is too small for the Mouse.
The company also works with thousands of smaller influencers, usually individual women and their families, to promote Disney as a lifestyle brand.
These partnerships usually take the form of free products and vacations — that’s some wonderful Disney magic there.
For example, influencers have only recently started opening up about Disney Creator Days, a weeklong vacation at a Disney resort for influencers and their families.
One influencer says that the cat’s out of the bag only now because, before 2019, influencers were “sworn to secrecy.” Another said that her Disney vacation came with the expectation of video creation, including a commercial featuring her family.
The result? Influencers get free family vacations while the company gets candid lifestyle content depicting the good times had with Disney magic.
These influencer partnerships can also earn serious viral cred for both Disney and the influencer herself. Dozens of bloggers, dubbed “Disney fashionistas,” share their fashion and makeup looks with their Instagram-centric audiences.
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Chelsea Watson of Styled By Magic netted 15.8K views in just a few weeks by featuring her Lion King-inspired fashion ensemble.
Meanwhile, Diana Saldana earned 339K views for a brisk whirlwind tour through the Aladdin Mac collection, which she fully tests in just 1:25.
The Walt Disney Company is one of the largest employers of people in the world, and that clearly includes a cadre of influencers, too.
The Disney success train isn’t stopping anytime soon, and the company has made it clear that brands both big and small can get on board.
Curious to see how movie companies, including Disney, are performing on social video?