MEDIA GIANTS ARE THE NEW BRAND BUILDERS

By Published on .

Most Popular
The Mickey Mouse beat was worked overtime at our company following the announcement that Walt Disney Co. was acquiring Cap Cities/ABC. As you might imagine, each of our publications covering the event pursued its own angle. Pensions & Investments said GE/NBC, News Corp., Turner Broadcasting, King World and DreamWorks SKG are now in play. "Most are heavily owned by mutual funds," P&I stated. One analyst told it that "a lack of critical mass and a lack of vertical integration" will push further deals.

Crain's New York Business emphasized Disney is now the toast of New York. "In the wave of a fairy godmother's wand, Walt Disney Co. has become one of New York City's most influential corporate citizens," CNYB said.

"As the new owner of Capital Cities/ABC, the linchpin in a plan to revitalize 42nd St., and a prospective buyer of Rockefeller Center, Disney is stamping its imprint on the city. Overnight, Disney has become a major New York employer and property owner as well*.*.*.*Mickey Mouse may soon be as omnipresent a symbol as The Apple."

Another CNYB story said New York money-center banks "are falling all over themselves" to get in on the Cap Cities/ABC deal and also Westinghouse's offer to buy CBS. A third story added that the sale of two of the television networks will put "enormous pressure" on independent producers in New York "struggling to find a place in the rapidly shifting media world."

Electronic Media weighed in with Q&A interviews with Michael Eisner of Disney and Michael Jordan of Westinghouse. Mr. Eisner talked of building brands. "The Disney brand will still be the major growth component," he told EM, "and I believe the other assets will enhance that growth and give it new possibilities, whether it's creating an ESPN/Disney Channel combination around the world or combining ABC and Disney technology and content to provide interactive media and online service."

And, of course, our major take on the Disney-Cap Cities/ABC merger was its effect on the advertising community. "This is either a fabulous opportunity for marketers or it could signal big trouble ahead.* .*.*.*The trouble will be if they use their dominance to leverage their pricing," warned Steve Farella of Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor. Combined, he said, Disney and ABC will control 30% of all kids' ratings points available to advertisers in the U.S. We put Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson on our front page to exemplify how Disney and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. will do battle around the world.

What's interesting to me is that the giant media companies are destined to become the worldwide brand builders of the 21st century. Procter & Gamble and Colgate, Nestle and Unilever actually have few worldwide brands. But Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and ESPN are virtually everywhere, and are able to invade world cultures far more intimately than even Kodak or Coca-Cola.

For the first time, communications is driving marketing and not the other way around.

In this article: