The Walt Disney Brand Image

The Walt Disney Brand Image

The Walt Disney Company is the world’s largest independent media conglomerate, with diversified multinational mass media and entertainment being at the epicentre of what they do. On August 31, 2009, Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion and slowly since then Marvel has been acquiring back the rights to characters that they sold before they became a subsidiary under Disney. As of 2018, Marvel has successful retrieved film licensing agreements for The X-Men and Fantastic Four Films, Spider-Man, and future Hulk films. As Fombrun and van Riel (2004) have established, good company reputation with the consumers results in higher financial returns so when stakeholders grow to respect a strong brand, and when it consistently delivers satisfaction, customers are likely to be confident in the product which can minimise their attempts at searching for alternatives, this is what Marvel has done by maximizing production and streamlining on their movie line in a much more limited market (superhero movies) which have become everso popular within America and its culture. Their only real competitor being DC Comics as they own the rights to some of the most popular superheroes (Superman and Batman). Madden, Fehle and Fournier (2006) in a paper focused upon brands identified that successful brand management yields higher shareholder value. Their research showcased the value of good brand management and represents what Marvel wishes to become as a Brand as they invest millions into producing interwoven stories.

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Vargo and Lusch (2004) bring forth the idea that marketing brands have shifted their perspective to be more intangible, co-created, and based upon relationships held between the business and the consumer. This can be expressed as a fundamental ideology of ensuring loyalty, although many people assume this belief is only propagated by more entertainment based industries such as books, movies, or TV shows, the importance of loyalty goes all the way down to where you buy your rubbers and rulers from and can be a very distinguishing factor within unconscious consumer behaviour. This would be an extremely important factor held by the Disney Company as it aligns well with their methods of customer retention through the use of hype (purposefully leaked footage, teaser trailers, and easter eggs), reputation (employing popular actors such as the latest Spider-Man movie bringing Jake Gyllenhaal into the fold as another superhero), and transmedia storytelling (through a shared Marvel Cinematic Universe that stretches across movies, TV Shows, and even canonical advertisements such as the ones done with Thor).

As a mode of practice, transmedia storytelling is still most closely associated with what Benjamin Birkinbine, Rodrigo Gomez, and Janet Wasko refer to as the global media giants “the huge media conglomerates such as Disney and Time-Warner, [which] take advantage of globalization to expand abroad and diversify” (2017, 15). Transmediality applies heavily within a brand, specifically Disney as it has evolved in many different ways, namely into brand development practice or as a way to support traditional media content through transmedia franchising systems (Johnson, 2013) such as Marvel establishing a phase system which slates a series of movies to be released in particular years with similar but characteristically unique iterations into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for example Iron Man is about a Millionaire Genius who builds a robotic suit of armour and Doctor Strange is about a Neurosurgeon who has damaged his hands in a car crash and attempts to fix them through magic; however they both play into the same story arc. Netflix has sunk millions into creating original content in the form of “Netflix Originals” this has limited their profit as they are using so much of it to produce the content that investors are beginning to become disillusioned with their share value. Recently, there has been rumour of Disney planning to remove their Marvel movies from Netflix as they begin to develop a new Network to rival it. With Disney being so large, it is more likely that they will be able to produce a larger amount of original content to potentially outcompete Netflix.

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