Disney delves in with 'Magic' for brand push

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Disney, perhaps the most well- known brand name in entertainment, wants to further entrench its name with a new low-key corporate branding campaign that tugs on the emotions of its consumers.

Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which already handles creative for Disney theme parks, was tapped for what Disney executives said is its first corporate branding effort in five years. The campaign, themed "Magic Happens," breaks Feb. 25 on Walt Disney Co.'s TV properties, including ABC's "The Wonderful World of Disney." About a month later, the spots will also become part of a significant media buy on non-Disney media outlets.

Two of three 90-second spots have been produced, all directed by veteran commercial director Joe Pytka.

One spot, called "Pillow Talk," features a middle-age couple in bed, with the wife musing about how they, as a couple, are "drifting." She complains her husband doesn't talk to her like when they were younger. At first the man is unresponsive. After a dramatic pause, he leans over, and in a Donald Duck voice, says "I love you." Then the words flash on the screen: "Magic Happens. Disney."

Another spot features a man at home packing to go on a business trip. His son enters the room, carrying a Winnie the Pooh doll, and asks him a number of questions about why he is going. In the next scene, the man is found in another country in unfamiliar surroundings. Then in his hotel, as he unpacks his suitcase, he smiles as he sees the doll.

"When you are talking about the brand, it isn't so much about commercialism," said Michael Mendenhall, president of marketing and synergy for the Walt Disney Studios. "The point was to reinforce the values of the Disney brand-in that we touch people in very real ways."

"We are not trying to sell anything," said Cheryl Berman, chief creative officer at Burnett. "The spots are for the overarching Disney brand. We're trying to bring real human magic of Disney to life in little moments that touch people's lives."

Walt Disney executives said the campaign is a work in progress. In a meeting with analysts last week, Disney Chairman Michael Eisner said, "It's the beginning of a new campaign-but we are not sure what it is for yet. We are trying to address brand and image, and this is part of the process." Mr. Mendelhall added: "We'll let this seed."

As reported last week in Ad Age sibling Electronic Media, one of these spots was to have first aired just before CBS' Super Bowl game last month-but according to CBS executives, it came in too late. Electronic Media also reported that sources claimed CBS declined to air the Disney's image campaign because of concerns that Disney is competitive with CBS' sibling cable kids network, Nickelodeon.

In response to whether or not CBS would run the new Disney spots in the future, a spokesman said, "I can't see why we wouldn't be running them." In the past, CBS has run Disney theme park commercials.

Disney last year brought its longtime icon and character, Mickey Mouse, back into higher consumer awareness, with its "Why We Love the Mouse" campaign featuring a number of celebrities. But the company said that effort promoted its signature character and was not a corporate campaign.

"Love the Mouse," created in-house, was launched just after Disney aired a new series featuring Mickey Mouse on ABC's One Saturday Morning kids program block called "The House of Mouse."

"We didn't want to let kids think that Mickey Mouse is just a company logo, but that he is also about entertainment," said Mr. Eisner.

Contributing: Kate MacArthur

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