Disney stole Ted Turner’s “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way” line. Here’s my POV broadcast on Nightly Business Report

Disney
Disney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was it bird, was it a plane, was it a government body, no, last week’s super hero was Disney’s CEO, Bob Igor, stealing Ted Turner’s line, “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way” with the announcement that the Disney network will slim down access to brands deemed unhealthy and become the world’s brand champion for healthy kids – along with a “Mickey Mark” that endorses appropriate products.

What more could an investor and a mum share in common than Disney (NYSE:DIS), a game changing brand we all trust, with channels free of unhealthy product advertising, garnishing world applause, increased ratings and a Mickey Mark that provides mum the short-cut to decide if a product is a good choice for her children whether on 4-screens or down the aisle.

Disney’s ability to focus on efficiencies that can create and capture demand make any competition irrelevant from being able to usurp Disney’s lead due to its arsenal of assets for ‘healthy kids’ brand endorsement deals. Creating a new revenue stream for Disney and a new business model by taking an ethical stance whilst being a boon for business – and not just Disney’s – in the $2.5 Trillion combined media and CPG categories.

By cracking the world’s toughest brief: making it easy for mum, Disney has unleashed a game changer, taking a page right out of the book, Blue Ocean Strategy (by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne). Disney has set its sights on creating a giant footprint in a fiercely contested health category. Mum neither knows what to give her children or what to allow them to innocently watch; she is confused by the endless cacophony of messages and icons embedded in a frivolous sea of promotions on screen and down the aisles filled with their gleaming category cues.

Image representing The Walt Disney Company as ...
Image via CrunchBase

Disney’s Big Idea is made more brilliant by the limited impact on their return on capital employed (ROCE) as the bulk of the new investment effort will no doubt be shared with brand partners and from marketing and licensing deals. Alongside the ‘Mickey Mark’ strategy that will eventually offer up its advertisers, the inevitable foray down the grocery aisle with their own Disney portfolios and licensing with those brands Disney endorses as ‘healthy’.

In an industry that thrives on exciting customers with new products, innovation
is key and Disney’s treasure chest represents a gargantuan brand and licensing opportunity for targeted health & wellness programs. Many pundits currently eye greater value in splitting up CPG companies like P&G and PepsiCo. As for media, finding growth past the election and the Olympics is foreseen as tough and networks are in flux. Just last week during Dish Network’s announcement of its new ad-skipping device, CEO, Charlie Ergon, was vocal about the need for better advertising strategies from the networks whilst warning that Internet video threatens the pay-tv ecosystem.

Let’s face it if you don’t like change, you’ll enjoy irrelevance even less. The last time a business reinvented more than one industry simultaneously was Apple – and they had a big idea also. The ‘shock and awe’ of this audacious move by Disney has mammoth implications for all media players, especially Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, who will have to lead a path or follow suit – Disney has ‘the con’ as they say in the movies.

Growth begets growth and major brand and media owners are going to be forced to be good at what they do and take an holistic view of the customer and create new methods of engagement and seamless experience that can give customers what they want with the products and services they offer. So after a week or two of navel gazing, they need to look to Disney’s initiative and aim to create either new products for licensing, bundled portfolios of existing ‘good for you’ products for Disney endorsement strategies or review what they have in their portfolio that could be modified to satisfy the stringent criteria of Disney (NYSE:DIS): acting as an industry seal of approval.

In risk there is opportunity and Disney has masterfully leapfrogged an entire category to become the voice of health and wellness for kids around the world. By simply staying on brand, this win-win business strategy alone reinvents Disney’s franchise as it broadens its ‘Masterbrand’ role beyond the boundaries of entertainment, products and hospitality services. There will be a progression and it might be sluggish, but done well, it’s hugely likely that publicity and demand will create a successful pull through strategy. Ultimately this is a ‘show me’ industry that survives by exciting customers with new products. Now the magic’s started, it’s show time folks.

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Author: Dean Crutchfield

In an award-winning career spanning two decades, Dean Crutchfield has created, built and re-invigorated some of the world's most iconic brands.

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