The Walt Disney Company
Key Players / People
Description: Based at first on little but an animated mouse, Walt Disney had grown to be one of the largest and best known media companies in the world by the mid-2000s. Most of our cases in the course so far focus on strategy at the level of the individual business unit. In this module, we shift perspective to “corporate level strategy”. The Disney case provides our first close look at how diversified, multi-business organizations create a corporate advantage.
1. Why has Disney been so successful for so long?
“The Walt Disney Years, 1923-1966”and “The Post-Walt Disney Years, 1967-1984”
The company pioneered ideas in film and ultimately would use its brand as a producer of family-style entertainment to further expand into other media outlets. Additionally, the company attempted to minimize costs by integrating specific functions of the channels involved in its various lines of business. The company had a philosophy to create universal timeless family entertainment and aimed to control the complete entertainment experience. The company essentially created an entertainment ecosystem around its brand, providing multiple touch points for the consumer to interact with the Disney franchise.
· Short Films and Mickey Mouse
· Created when the Disney Brothers’ successful series of short films starring “Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit” were commandeered by their distributor
· The company attracted distributors by adding synchronized sound, something that had never been attempted in a cartoon. Resulted in “Steamboat Willie” in 1928.
· Full-length films
· In Walt’s mind, real money lay in feature films
· “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” in 1937
· First full-length, full-color animated feature
· Highest grossing animated movie of all time
· Branched into live-action with such classics as “Old Yeller” and “Mary Poppins”
· Created Buena Vista Distribution in 1953, eliminating distribution fees (savings of 1/3 of a film’s gross revenues)
· Further saved costs by developing internal talent
· Introduction of a new label in the early 1980s aimed at the teen/adult market in an effort to stem the decline in the film division
· Produced first TV special, “One Hour in Wonderland,” in 1950, reaching 20MM viewers (only 10.5MM TV sets)
· Later worked with ABC to produce “Disneyland” and “Mickey Mouse Club” for television audiences
· Launched the Disney Channel in 1983
· Theme Parks
· Disneyland opened in 1955
· Disney World and EPCOT in 1971
· $139MM from 11MM visitors in year one
· Created two on-site resort hotels, the first for the company
· Expanded internationally with Tokyo Disney and later Euro Disney
2. What did Michael Eisner do to rejuvenate Disney? Specifically, how did he quintuple net income in his first three years as CEO?
“Eisner’s Turnaround, 1984-1993”
Eisner took over the company with a plan “to build the Disney...