Monday, January 4, 2016

Between Books - Inside the Disney Marketing Machine

It has become a family tradition to watch the Disney parade on ABC on Christmas day.  During this two hour presentation, viewers see a parade filmed primarily from Walt Disney World on a network owned by Disney with hosts employed by ABC and Disney cable networks which highlights the parks in-between video snippets about Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Aulani, Disney films, and everything else you  can think of made by the mouse.  If Synergy, a much maligned work for marketing integration, had a showcase this parade would be it! 

Inside the Disney Marketing Machine: In the Era of Michael Eisner & Frank Wells by Lorraine Santoli outlines the author’s experiences within Disney marketing and publicity efforts beginning in 1978.  Santoli moved to California planning to be a script writer but finding a very different career in Disney marketing.  She would eventually move into the position of manager of Corporate Synergy and Special Projects.   In this role she would market Disney to Disney!   Santoli would interact with numerous Disney legends including Charlie Ridgeway, Jack Lindquist, Frank Wells and the synergy champion Michael Eisner.  Santoli outlines a number of her projects marketing Disney parks and creating synergy experiences.   Her synergy discussion provides in-depth detail on how she was able to build and support a highly effective synergy machine. 

Overall, I found Inside the Disney Marketing Machine easy to read, enjoyable and helpful.  One of the important lessons that one finds in Santoli’s writing is the power of personal relationships within the workplace.  It is the relationships that she created throughout Disney including those between others that made synergy work.  As a professional, one reads of catered breakfasts and some may think “why do you need to bribe employees to do their job?”  Seriously I have heard this complaint in the last month.  But really Santoli was creating connections which fostered teamwork through networking, the treats were just the tool.  Stronger connections were forged within the company and units were more willing to work with each other.  The second part of her dastardly plan was really information sharing.  Due to the relationships she had created in the diverse company, key champions would give attention to her targeted messages and best of all act on them.  These are key business lessons that we can all learn from; the power of relationship and information.  Most professionals can likely reflect on projects that broke down due to a lack of networking and communication.  And much of that breakdown is often based on when people do no read and act on messages.   

Though as a Cyclone fan I do need to remind everyone that Iowa State University (Go Cyclones!) and the University of Iowa are two very different schools.  Of course, I assume only a minority of readers are ISU alumni who take a certain pride in their school’s unique Disney connection!  But sadly this reviewer had his cardinal and gold socks on when he read her accounting of the Mickey Mouse cornfield.   

Inside the Disney Marketing Machine is an excellent account of the founding of Disney’s highly effective synergy campaign.  Santoli teaches readers how to market within a company and the results of increased integration, cooperation and profits.  Santoli takes us from the ground up as synergy was created from scratch within Disney.  And we can all learn valuable lessons about relationship building from her experience, especially since we can still see synergy’s tremendous results today for Disney.   And of course, Disney fans will love looking at the synergy machine from the inside of the mouse. 

Review Copy Provided by Theme Park Press 

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