Two icons of hearth and home-McDonald's Corp. and Walt Disney Co.-are jumping online to target kids and families. McDonald's last week launched McFamily on America Online, offering entertainment and parenting advice.
Appearing on Microsoft Network next month, McFamily's commerciality so far is limited to a catalog of licensed merchandise, but may be broadened to include promotional elements down the road, said David Green, senior VP-marketing.
McDonald's first experimented with online services last fall, in a promotion with NBC Online.
"Who knows how much of this will last long term, and really change people's lifestyles?" Mr. Green said. "We're just in the beginning stages."
McDonald's will use McFamily to collect customer data, as it does through McMoms, a custom published magazine sent to customers who submit names and addresses through promotions.
McDonald's may expand McFamily to the World Wide Web, Mr. Green said. Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, helped design the online site.
Disney's plunge into the online world is proceeding on two fronts: Disney Web, a marketing and promotional site on the World Wide Web, will be unveiled in late 1995 or early 1996 followed by a new online network to be developed in the next several years. No platform has been designated for that ambitious commercial venture-but Disney executives said it will be aimed at the traditional Disney audience: children and their parents.
Jake Winebaum, president of Disney Magazine Publishing, will relinquish that post to head up the newly formed Disney On-Line as president. He's charged with overseeing the development of the two online projects.
Mr. Winebaum launched Family Fun and then sold it to Disney in 1992 after publishing two issues. Once at Disney, he headed up the launch of Family PC, a joint venture between Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. and Disney.
Disney has already had some exposure to the online world. Family PC has a Web site as well as a site on America Online, and Family Fun had until recently been managing a child-oriented site on Prodigy known as For Kids, By Kids.
Disney clearly feels it is time to up the ante with a more aggressive effort aimed at children and their parents. Mr. Winebaum will be relocating from New York to Disney headquarters in Burbank, Calif.
"It will be a very vast world," said Mr. Winebaum, who envisions the successful online presence will have many similarities to magazines. "The services that win will have multiple sources of revenue-subscription, transactional and advertising."
Disney Web, on the other hand, will be available free and he said he did not anticipate that it would carry sponsorships or advertising.