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By Published on .

Walt Disney Co. tapped Wunderman Cato Johnson, New York, to handle its new Club Disney business, the first venture from Disney's location-based entertainment division.

Spending wasn't disclosed, but Wunderman won with a pitch that included a proposal for a loyalty program designed to spur repeat visits. The plan could involve other Disney divisions, including theme parks and retail stores.


Club Disney is the family entertainment giant's take on a concept made popular by the Discovery Zone chain of children's entertainment centers. Club Disney positions itself as a cross between a rec room, arcade and a metropolitan science center. The Club Disney prototype, a 24,500-square foot facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif., will open in February.

Activities and programs will leverage Disney characters and divisions, including Disney Interactive, Disney Online and ESPN. There's also a Disney retail store, food court and party rooms.

Disney's corporate alliances will be tapped for services and promotional opportunities. Coca-Cola Co. is already on board.

Wunderman is creating an integrated campaign to launch the Thousand Oaks location that includes print ads, direct mail, point of purchase, interactive media and promotions.

"This is a business that has a big direct marketing [component] because it's very local, although it's designed to eventually be a multi-unit business. So we hired Wunderman based on their direct marketing expertise, but also because of the larger creative package they pitched," said Jay Rasulo, senior VP, Disney Regional Entertainment.


Wunderman's pitch went beyond a launch plan.

"The biggest challenge won't be to get people the first time because their brand is so strong," said Paul Jandreau-Smith, agency exec VP-managing director. "It will be to get people to come back and use the play site during off-peak periods."

Wunderman's proposed answer to that challenge is to create a loyalty program that uses smart cards. Customers would collect points with every visit and purchase and redeem them for merchandise, discounts and other rewards. Disney would add to its extensive database.

Mr. Rasulo said the loyalty program is just one idea his division and the agency are exploring. He believes a major incentive for repeat visits will be Disney's entertainment offerings.

"When we launch, we'll take advantage of `101 Dalmatians,"' he said. "Next summer, we'll capitalize on `Hercules."'

Wunderman will eventually transfer the business to its smaller San Francisco office.

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