Case Assignment: Disney the Happiest Brand on Earth

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The Happiest Brand on Earth
In 2006, Disney’s Pixar released the hit movie Cars, which grossed $462 million worldwide. Since then, Cars merchandise has generated over $2 billion in sales each year. Pixar has since created a series of Cars shorts to be aired on the Disney Channel with a subsequent DVD release. A Cars sequel is in the works for 2011, and an online virtual gaming world is set to release 2009. In 2012, Disney’s California Adventure theme park will open its 12-acre Cars Land attraction.

At Disney, the brand is the name of the game, and cross-platform success of the Cars franchise is by no means the exception to the rule. Disney also has the Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, High School Musical, the Disney Princesses, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the list goes on and on. The man behind the magic is Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, who has lead a dramatic revitalization of the Disney brand since succeeding longtime head Michael Eisner in 2005. When he first took the post, his strategy shifted Disney’s focus around its stable of “franchises.” These franchises are distributed across Disney’s multiple company platforms and divisions, such as Disney’s various television broadcasts platforms (the Disney Channel, ABC, ESPN), its consumer products business, theme parks, Disney’s Hollywood Records music label, and Disney’s publishing arm in Hyperion, just to name a few.

Iger’s franchise strategy has been supported by the other major move he made upon first becoming CEO. On his first day on the job, Iger told the board that revitalizing Disney’s animation business was a top priority, which would be improved through the purchase of Pixar. As part of Iger’s franchise strategy the deal made perfect sense, as many of Disney’s latest TV shows, Disneyland rides, and merchandise were based on Pixar characters.

Finding a new market to push the Disney franchise became a priority as well. With the Disney brand growing flat, it was becoming...
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