Disney partners with Steve Stoute's agency to connect brands to diverse audiences
Walt Disney's ad division is partnering with Steve Stoute’s agency, Translation, in an effort to connect brands with more diverse audiences.
The multiyear deal with Disney’s branded content studio and creative agency, CreativeWorks, will provide marketing partners with the opportunity to identify, activate and scale cultural insights to create campaigns that resonate with young, diverse audiences.
“We want to make sure we are providing solutions at scale for clients that address all audiences,” says Rita Ferro, president, advertising sales and partnerships, Disney.
“This is a sign of the times; you have to do it,” Stoute says. “It’s not only the right thing to do but it is good for business. These audiences are loyal and waiting to be spoken to in a way that’s authentic to them.”
While the announcement comes as major corporations take a look internally at their own diversity and inclusion practices, Ferro says the beginnings of a partnership with Stoute and Translation started last fall. The two even hosted meetings together while at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January, speaking to clients about the ways culture can move their business forward. But those efforts were put on pause once COVID-19 disrupted business.
Now Ferro and Stoute are back out talking to the marketplace. By the end of the first year of the partnership, Ferro says she would like to see 20 brands work with CreativeWorks and Translation to speak to audiences they have not directly connected with thus far. “It’s not only an important initiative but it also makes business sense,” Ferro says.
Moving forward, Ferro wants all conversations with clients to include strategies on how they can speak to diverse audiences.
“Disney is at the intersection of culture and storytelling. Steve understands how to make those cultural conversations happen for brands,” Ferro says. “Everything happening in society is making this conversation more relevant than it was before.”
Culture at the center
Stoute says a 17-year-old white kid in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a 17-year-old African American from Compton, California, are currently so segmented by brands that they are treated like two different people—even though they have plenty in common.
“They could like the same music, buy the same sneakers, are on the same social platforms, enjoy the same humor,” Ferro says. “Culture sits at the center of all audiences. When you are relevant it speaks to all audiences.”
During lockdowns, Translation worked with Disney for State Farm’s campaign during ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” the documentary about the Chicago Bulls. The ads featured what looking like a 90s-era clip of ESPN’s SportsCenter featuring Kenny Mayne talking about the Bulls. But then Mayne starts making predictions about the future.
For Translation, which Stoute started just over 15 years ago, this is “the big leagues.” When Stoute started the agency in 2004 he named it Translation because the goal was to help translate culture to Fortune 500 companies. “In 2004 to bring up culture was very ambitious,” he says. “Fifteen years later, a partner like Disney provides the creativity and scale to work with our culture and storytelling initiative. It is a dream come true from an entrepreneur perspective.”