Group: Disney EchoEar Grand Mouseter/AdministratEAR
Joined: Aug. 2001
||Posted: Dec. 05, 2003 8:54 am/pm
What would Walt do?
Elea Nit, a full-time mother of two, sorts through a pile of Princess T-shirts in a Disney Store here, apparently dissatisfied. "I hear they're closing a bunch of these stores," she says, "I'm not surprised.... The prices are much higher than they need to be," she says, picking up a stuffed Pooh bear.
She might easily be reciting from Roy Disney's letter of resignation. He and two other Disney board members stepped down this week, amid a swirl of publicity, charging that the Magic Kingdom is being mismanaged.
Ms. Nit, a US-born Israeli, points at the piles of Princess merchandise, a line of products based on classic Disney heroines. "They're just running the old stuff into the ground," she says. Motioning to a pile of "Lilo and Stitch" dolls, she adds, "when they try something new, it's just awful. Who wants to see such a crazy, mean creature?"
[...]Disney has lost the special place it once had. "Typically, when people looked at the studios in Hollywood," he says, "they put Disney in a class by itself." That image has taken a beating by everything from fatal accidents at both Disneyland and Disney World to the current flap over Disney's association with the foul-mouthed holiday film "Bad Santa" and the ultra-violent "Kill Bill," both of which were produced by Disney-owned Miramax.
The public's attachment to the old Disney name has changed to such a degree in the past five years, adds Geis, "that the special pixie dust is no longer [there]."
"I've watched Eisner for years and years," says Sam Hill, president of Helios Consulting and coauthor of "The Infinite Asset: Managing Brands to Build New Value." "Any time you have cult CEOs that sort of hype up the company and hype up the brand and love the PR god, well, that's a two-edged sword.... You go up the curve quickly, you come down the curve quickly."
"They've positioned themselves as being in the 'magic business,' " says David Shore, director of the Trust Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health. "When you enter the Disney compound, there's a sign that says 'Welcome to 100 years of Magic.' " Mr. Shore calls this strong branding a power brand, something that consumers will pay more for, travel farther to see, and wait longer to experience, because their expectations are high. Fundamentally, he says, "Disney is not in the attractions or the movie business, they're in the trust business. Trust, not the dollar or the euro, is the currency of all commerce." Unfortunately, he adds, "there's been erosion of that trust."