The Walt Disney Corporation: the Entertainment King

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The Original Disney Company (pre-1984)

Walt Disney set a vision for the company – to provide wholesome family entertainment. Everything that the company did was aligned to this vision and corporate philosophy.

The key ingredient that fueled the success of Walt Disney Company was its ability to create new, unique cartoon characters that had universal appeal. Over the years, Disney did a great job in bringing these characters to life, and kept introducing new characters that further solidified Disney as a company that valued creativity. At that time, there was no other company that had as many successful cartoon characters as them. The company applied its creative strategy beyond characters and ventured into new business areas, such as producing the first full-length movie. This allowed Disney to capture a lot of value among its target customer base.

This pioneering spirit was bolstered by other factors that ultimately shaped the competitive advantage for Disney. The ability to leverage the intellectual property that the company created, the resourcing, recruitment and work culture, and Disney’s investment strategy, all played a key role in ensuring that Disney was not only creative in its characterization, but also innovative in extracting the value from its characters.

The company expanded into new business areas – feature movies, theme parks and merchandizing, distribution – that gave them added value and they not only captured a larger share of the pie, but also expanded the pie. Each new business Disney entered, however, was aligned to its core vision and thus allowed for synergies to be created.

The Early Eisner Years (1984-1993)

When Eisner came to Disney in 1984, he came in with a clear objective of maximizing shareholder value and the way he planned to do it was to fully leverage Disney key competitive strength – creativity. What he added into the mix was the ‘management’ of this creativity through emphasis on innovation and financial...
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