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Disney is new to streaming, but its marketing is unmatched



LOS ANGELES – Tom Bergeron, host of the ABC reality show "Dancing With the Stars," looked into the camera at the start of a recent Disney-themed episode and made a powerful sales pitch. Disney Plus, a new streaming service, arrived on November 12, telling the seven million people watching at home. With his voice rising, he added, "It is available to you to pre-register right now !"

At that moment, employees of Disney Plus watched the live broadcast from Disney headquarters in Burbank, Calif. , burst into applause. At the end of the hour-long broadcast, they had sore hands. Mr. Bergeron plugged the service over and over.

All for the corporate sibling: ABC, owned by Disney, has blown the trumpets for Disney Plus as part of a promotional offensive – one that Ricky Strauss, president of Disney Plus content and marketing, has described as "a synergy campaign in a magnitude unique in the history of the Walt Disney Company. " It's a statement given the gusto that Disney typically approaches promotions. But the streaming wars are escalating. Now is not the time for ingenuity.

Two years ago, when Disney unveiled plans for a Netflix video platform, CEO Robert A. Iger made a bold proclamation: "We're going to launch big, and we're launching hot," he said Netflix, Amazon Prime and even a few of Disney's traditional competitors snickered. What did Disney know about streaming and the complex technology needed to pull that kind of service?

Whether Disney has surpassed the technical barriers remains to be seen. no one underestimates Disney Plus anymore, partly because the company has begun to exert its unique marketing power, including in areas that Silicon Valley and Hollywood often overlook.

Walt Disney World in Florida has several buses (many of which are packed into Disney Plus- ads) than the city of St. Louis. The Disney Cruise Line carries more than 12,000 passengers in a given moment, showing up views of the Disney Plus show " High School Musical: The Musi cal: The Series "aboard. Disney Store locations, still numbering in the hundreds, will host the pep rally for the series. As of November 12, more than 7,000 Disney retail employees will wear lanterns embrazed with a QR code; shoppers can scan the code with their smartphones and connect directly to a Disney Plus sign-up page.

"Think of Disney as a giant pinball player, with content and initiatives pinging between divisions in an effort to achieve the ultimate score," said Gene Del Vecchio, marketing professor at the University of Southern California & # 39; s Marshall School of Business .

Consider what Mr. Strauss and Joe Earley, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Operations, have planned for Monday. They call it "blitz day."

Disney Plus's marketing attack began in August at the D23 Expo, a two-year event Disney fans in Anaheim, California, attracting more than 100,000 people. Disney showcased the original Disney Plus movies and shows by pitting more than 50 contestants on one stage – stars, directors, droids, dogs – and showcasing audiences with plus-size confetti . As part of the three-day expo, Disney unveiled a special promotion: three years of Disney Plus for $ 4 a month.

The purchase generated media coverage. A few weeks ago, Disney offered a new subscription deal that was covered as news. For example, Verizon customers can get one year off for free, and Disney-branded Visa card holders can purchase two- and three-year subscriptions for a discount.

"They have gained more awareness for Disney Plus from the press coverage of this subscription deal than they would ever be able to get through paid avenues," said Del Vecchio.

Another gripe involved digital media. To emphasize the size of the Disney Plus library offerings, Mr. Earley and his team collected 20-second excerpts from each old movie and series that will be available on the service.The finished video, posted on YouTube October 14, is more than three hours Disney also published a large Twitter thread consisting of posters of everything that came to Disney Plus.

Disney has declined to say how many have signed up so far, but the marketing campaign seems to UBS analysts said last week that they asked 1,000 consumers in mid-October and 86 percent had heard of Disney Plus, and about 44 percent said they would probably subscribe.

the Disney Plus chain department is just getting started, Earley said. The other day, for example, a counterpart at Disney's theme park division called to say that another 20 billboards could be set up, this time on the pages of semi-trailers pulling supplies to Disney World from suppliers across the country. [19659002] "We don't want to overdo it," Earley said. "But it's overwhelming what this company can do."


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