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What is the easiest way to build a brand?

In Apple, brand-building, Disney on August 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

By Robert Liljenwall
Outdoor bulletins (nee Billboards) are one of the surest and fastest ways to build brand awareness in any market – especially in Southern California where it’s the Billboard Capital of the World – with millions of cars (and consumers) on the road practically every minute of every day who pass by these Advertising Wonders.  You can build brand awareness quickly and cheaply in Southern California – with its 28 million residents – by purchasing strategically positioned large, outdoor bulletins on key freeways like the 405, 110, 5, 210 and 60 in the Los Angeles region.

They aren’t cheap per board – some running over $45,000 per site, per month – but the CPM is relatively cheap – in the pennies/M – compared to television.  And you can get complete coverage within a short time frame (like 30 days) of practically 100% of the market.

Everyone knows that you never walk in California – you drive, whether it’s for lunch 60 miles away or to go to the corner super market just steps from your home.  Californians are so lazy and auto-dependent; they love to soak up the latest billboards just to keep their minds awake while in hour-long traffic jams on the not-so-efficient freeways.  Of course, you know that you cannot put more than seven words on a billboard and have it understood, right?  But there are more agencies than not  and dim-witted clients who just love to jam just about everything including the kitchen sink into the 18×48 billboards – Look at all that empty space? Of course, at 80 miles an hour, you can probably just read three or four words.

Notable brand marketers who know their outdoor stuff – Apple (who else?), Anheuser Busch,  Toyota, Audi, Coca Cola, Heineken, Hollywood studios….they are pros at putting up eye-catching ads with not a lot of copy – they just want to sell the brand.  Outdoor advertising is a brand-building medium that remains hugely popular with advertisers.  It’s cheap, efficient, and proven to be remembered with consumers.

The latest technology, of course, is four-color process, large vinyl printed sheets that stretch across the outdoor boards.  Long gone are the famous billboard artists who use to hand paint all the artwork – including the photo-like artwork that was an “art” by itself.  I remember when we did the Disney characters on our billboards in the 1960s and 1970s….it was all original art from our style-guides given to these very talented artists.  They loved working on the Disney characters because they admired the art and creativity.

Today, this art has all been replaced by Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.  It’s mechanical but efficient and spot-on accurate.  I love the simplicity of the Apple billboards – no copy, just the outline of a dancer with the iPod in their ears.  Clean and simple.

This brings me up to the attached artwork (below) – I was speaking in Mexico City this week (August 15) for Diffusion Paramerica – who is one of Mexico’s largest billboard companies – and they surprised me with place five billboards around Mexico City with my photo and subject matter on it – and also had five taxi cabs with my mug on it, too.  Surprised?  I think so.  It’s a first for me.  –  RJL

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The Best 30 Minutes of a Child’s Day

In Disney on March 16, 2011 at 5:09 pm

by Jeff Sandgren

Lest I be accused of plagiarism, the title of this article isn’t my creation.  Rather, it’s the actual vision statement behind the immersive retail experience known as the Disney Store.  Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a better hook.

To see the magic of the new flagship Disney Store in Times Square illumined at a candlepower befitting its high-lumen location, start by recalling that the chain was rescued from bankruptcy only a few years ago.  The resurrected global chain now has over 5 million people per day walking by one of over 370 locations.  In Times Square alone, over 8,000 pass by per hour.  But this isn’t a typical “location, location, location” retail success story.  It’s Brand, Location, and Technology.

Of the 200 million annual passers-by who actually enter a Disney Store, about 60% are what Disney calls their “Best Guests”; consumers who patronize their theme parks, subscribe to their media channels, go to the movies (AT the movie theater), and addictively purchase all manner of Disney paraphernalia.  That’s not by accident.  It’s the result of careful crafting to deliver a brand experience at a retail level on a par with the brand experience at the theme parks or in the movie theater.

We spoke with Paul Gainer, VP and GM for North America, about his experience during this turnaround.  “For me it’s been a great two and a half years,” beamed Paul, “but the best part has been seeing the children and their families, connecting  with the brand in-store, and connecting with each other in that experience.”

Actually, it isn’t about brand, location or technology.  It’s about the children, true to the vision statement.  And the technology is the enabler.   “We utilize the technology to improve the child’s experience,” Paul told us.  “The child controls which princess they see, which film clips.  Each child sees what they want to see.”

But that’s just the first step.  For the full trick, the parents have to have a positive experience, too.  And that is where the technology comes in again.  Disney spent the last year and a half re-platforming their Point of Sale (POS) system, globally, with 1,500 plus new registers across stores in seven countries, in five languages, and with four currencies.  On top of that, they added mobile terminals in fifty stores, achieving results that will have them continuing the mobile rollout throughout 2011.

“We reduced average transaction time significantly,” stated Gainer, “and that’s especially important during the holiday season.”  The mobile terminals enable “line-busting” by allowing cast-members (that’s Disney Retail’s name for their store personnel) to better manage queues and conduct full transactions without a traditional stationary register.

Disney’s POS technology implementation is nick-named SIMBA (Single Integrated Merchandising Business Application), as developed and deployed by a team of vendors including Oracle and Deloitte.  On the child-facing side, techno-magic behind the scenes includes RFID, iPod Touch , and other interactive displays.

While Disney’s Consumer Products Division claims to be “the most successful in the world”, the retail focus is not only about the product.

“It’s all about the guest experience,” says Gainer, “that’s the focal point for the whole Disney Community.”              JTS

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Part II – Jack Lindquist’s book – “In Service To The Mouse”

In brand-building, Disney on January 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm

This is the second installment of the review of Jack Lindquist‘s new book.
Jack is the former President of Disneyland and its first advertising manager.

by Robert Liljenwall

Nobody does brand management better than Disney

When Jack Lindquist joined Disneyland as head of Advertising in 1955, the Disneyland brand, by all current measurements, was a blip on America’s radar – known by few, visited by fewer, and regarded as “Walt’s folly” by most.  Building a theme park in the middle of orange groves 30 miles south of Los Angeles, seemed – at the time – the improbable place to begin a 38-year career that ended triumphantly for a humble marketing genius, even though that may seem like an oxymoron.

But humble Jack is.  After serving as Disney’s attraction and resort marketing head executive for nearly four decades, he guided the creation and development of many of the most powerful brands in the world that surround the Disney theme parks, now on three continents. In this page-turner memoir, Jack chronicles the challenges of developing marketing programs literally out of ‘thin air’.  “There were no guide books, no experts.  We made it up as we went along,” Jack recalls.

In his new book, just published and now available online – “In Service To The Mouse”, Jack shares never-before-told stories about how Walt Disney and his band of magical Imagineers, operations, and marketing masters created Disneyland, Disney World, Epcot, and other world-famous entertainment brands that continue to demonstrate how resilient and hugely popular Disney is today.

But it wasn’t always that way – not in the early days.  In continuing our review of Jack’s book, we pick up his story in 1970, 15 years after Disneyland opened:

Yippie Day threatens the “Happiest Place on Earth” … for a moment

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to test whether a brand is strong enough and deep enough to withstand a deliberate attack on its very existence.  Disneyland proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that its brand equity was wide and deep after it was ‘attacked’ by Yippies on August 6, 1970.  It was known, infamously, as “Yippie Day”.

The Youth International Party – known as Yippies – was a loose collection of young rebels more anti-authority than anti-war.  According to Jack, he described these malcontents as ‘more revolutionary’ than an organized anti-war group … “they burned down the Bank of America building at UC Santa Barbara.  They were more theatrical anarchists who participated in dramatic incidents to draw attention to themselves.”

Imagine if you were General Electric or Procter & Gamble, and you knew in advance that a band of young rebels were going to attack your world headquarters.  That doesn’t seem as far fetched as attacking “The Happiest Place on Earth” does it?  I mean, Jack thought at the time; “Give us a break. What have we done to deserve this?”

As head of marketing for Disneyland at the time, Jack describes how Disney management circled their wagons – pulled together a plan of defense, called the media to alert them that this was coming, and informed all employees how to deal with any disturbance in the Park.  After several awkward moments with Yippies showing up at the front gate with banners (not allowed in the Park) in the morning, they slipped in unnoticed later in the afternoon. They took over Tom Sawyer Island, but were quickly jettisoned from there. The Yippies then spread out, and after several serious confrontations along Main Street and at the Gate, they were forced out of the Park, but not without a lot of shoving and pushing.  Jack remembers how one, small 14-year old kid remarked, “…bring on the fuzz.”  So Jack did.  They were all over six feet tall and towered over the scared kid…  “So what do you call these gentlemen?” Jack shouted at him.  “Law enforcement officers, sir!”

It was over in a matter of hours.  I was there that day, and remember seeing these kids, led by a Cal State Fullerton professor in a blond wig, being chased by Disneyland management out of the park.  It was scary but kinda sweet at the time.  Jack remembers that “ …We won the battle, but not before it was carried on national TV that night. The reaction from across the nation? How could anyone attack Disneyland where the only thing people wanted to do there was to have fun?  Why spoil the fun for all those families? That was the theme of more than 1,400 editorials!”

Guests were given another free admission for the discomfort and trouble caused on Yippie Day…and of course, Yippie Day was just a blip on Disneyland’s storied 50 years as the Happiest Place on Earth.

When looking back at Disneyland’s history, Yippie Day is remembered more for how Disneyland employees and management handled a difficult and challenging experience – not for any destruction caused by a band of rebellious youths.  The Disney brand was intact!

Walt Disney World and continuing Walt’s dream

Roy Disney – Walt’s brother and long-time financial steward – was determined to open Walt Disney World after his brother’s death (1966) on time and on budget.  Working tirelessly to implement Walt’s vision for this new Florida theme park, the Disney team had the official dedication of Walt Disney World (WDW) on October 21, 1971, with Seventy-Six Trombones – led by Meredith Wilson – leading a huge parade down Main Street.  Located in the middle of more than 27,000 acres near Orlando, WDW was an immediate success.  No one doubted Disney’s decision to build a theme park now because the company had clearly demonstrated its unsurpassed ability to create and operate a theme park that attracted over 12 to 14 million guests every year in California.  Roy kept his promise:  and he died just two months later on December 20, 1971. He was able to see his brother’s dream come true.

While Walt Disney begged and borrowed to get his first theme park opened in Anaheim in the early 1950s, the company didn’t have to do any such thing for WDW.  America’s largest and most prestigious companies were lining up to get sponsorships or be aligned with the Disney brand in any way possible.

One of Jack’s major challenges after WDW opened was the task to market and sell the Epcot World Showcase – a series of pavilions featuring nations from around the world.  Traveling the globe with their presentations, Jack and his team finally were able to sell 11 nations on the concept – all at their expense.  “It wasn’t all fun and games.  We thought we had a shot at getting the Philippines, and when we informed Imelda Marcos of our fee ($1 million per year); she laughed us out of the room.”

What most people don’t remember, Jack says, is that Epcot stood for “Experimental City of Tomorrow” – a vision Walt had for a city and home to 20,000 who would live within earshot of WDW and would have every modern convenience known to man.  However, the concept of a real-life community in the middle of a theme park had a quiet death – Epcot, instead, became another one of WDW’s major attractions.

Disney’s fall and rise in the movie industry

As entertainment tastes and times changed after WDW opened, Disney had to, too!  A cornerstone of the company was its film library and studios that produced “Snow White”, “Bambi”, and “Fantasia”.  Walt Disney films always had “Walt Disney Presents” on top of the movie title, and for years, the Disney brand was a guarantee that the movie made a profit.  Whether it was “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” (w/Kirk Douglas) or “The Love Bug”, the Disney name meant “family entertainment” – good for the whole family.  (For many years, the Disney family earned 5% of all gross income on any project where Walt’s name was attached…but finally, the Disney board changed that that lucrative arrangement.)

The movie business changed dramatically in the late 1970s, especially with the release of Star Wars.  Disney was, by then, way behind the curve.  After several management changes and fighting off a hostile takeover, Michael Eisner, Frank Wells, and Jeffrey Katzenberg took over management reins and thus started a re-branding of Disney’s movie business.  Eisner became President and CEO and Frank Wells was his #2 guy… Katzenberg ran the movie business.  Known as the Paramount Mafia, the trio knew Hollywood at its most senior level – and they also knew that the Disney movie product had to upgrade and compete, or it would never become a major studio.

It wasn’t long before the Disney brand morphed into other brands, such as Touchstone, which produced “Splash” and “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” – both blockbuster hits.  When Disney acquired ABC/ESPN in 1985, it showed that Disney was a major entertainment company.  The Disney brand continued to rank in the top 10 global brands as it moved into the 1990s and 2000s.  Rightly so!

Eisner knows talent…elevates Jack to President of Disneyland

One of the Jack’s trademark ‘moves’ is that he doesn’t appear to be moving at all.  He is not tall or even handsome (he’ll agree to that) … he isn’t the first one out of the shoot to brag about his latest accomplishment; he prefers to work behind the scenes, not in front of them.  What does he do well?  He is one of the world’s top marketing executives, and a creative genius like none other.  That’s saying a mouthful at Disney – home of the world’s most creative and imaginative executives.  Jack was a proven winner in the trenches since Day One.

Michael Eisner appointed Jack as the first president of Disneyland in 1988 at a Service Awards Banquet – a complete surprise and shock to this diminutive but highly regarded and well-respected executive.  “Since I was the first person to ever have the job, there wasn’t any job description,” Jack remembers.  And for the next five years, Jack figured it out, reporting daily to Michael.  And what was Michael like to work with?  “He let me do my thing at the Park.”

Jack retired in 1993, and as he reflects back on his career, he likens his Disney career to a James Bond book – “…because 007 is dedicated to the service of the Queen.  I was dedicated to the Mouse.”

I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Jack’s book – “In Service To The Mouse”.  If you want to truly understand how great brands are built and sustained, this is a must-read.  You’ll get a true, behind-the-scenes tour of one of the World’s Great Brands!      RJL

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Where does the Disney brand reside?

In brand-building, Disney on October 28, 2010 at 12:45 pm

by Robert Liljenwall

For a moment, close your eyes.  Travel back in time … all the way back to your earliest memory, to your childhood.  What do you find?  For most of us, the earliest memories are filled with Disney cartoons, perhaps a Winnie The Pooh blanket or ‘jammies, a Mickey Mouse watch, Disney coloring books, and if you were really lucky, it was a stroller ride through Disneyland or Walt Disney World.  There was Mickey Mouse or Pluto or Goofy greeting you in Town Square or a ride on Mister Toad’s Wild Ride.  And when your parents bundled you up and took you to see a Disney movie such as Bambi, Snow White, Pinocchio, Song of the South, Fantasia or Mary Poppins, it was magical.

Disney songs remain forever embedded in these wonderful memories … and who cannot smile when you hear … “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A, My oh my, what a wonderful day.  Plenty of sunshine heading my way. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, Zip-A-Dee-A” … or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!”

Whether it’s watching Mary Poppins or a visit to Disneyland or seeing cartoons on the Disney Channel or wearing Winnie the Pooh pajamas or getting your first Mickey Mouse watch, Disney seems to pervade every aspect of our lives — from the moment we’re born until this very moment.  And that is why Disney continues to be one of the World’s Top Brands.

So, where does the Disney brand reside? The textbook tells us that ‘brands reside in the minds of consumers’ — it’s that simple.  So Disney brands are a collection of experiences and association with Disney’s products and services that we store in our memory.

Disney has mastered the creation and protection of their invaluable library of brands better than any other entity on the planet.  Staffed with one of the world’s most formidable intellectual property (IP) departments, Disney ferociously wages war on all fronts to protect their legal rights to trademarks and copyrights.  They have endured classic battles over the last 80+ years to protect their brands.  None has gained more notoriety than the fight with the family of A.C. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh.  In a complicated legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the parties (Disney and Milne, et al) eventually reached an agreement to have Disney continue to create Pooh merchandise and other media.  A new Winnie the Pooh movie is already in the works in the traditional animated style; this new Pooh film will be released July 15, 2011.

As an aside, one of the thrills I had while at Disneyland was to play Winnie the Pooh for the day … it was an experience of a lifetime, and one can never imagine how much joy and pleasure these famous Disney characters give to children and adults alike.

One doesn’t have to don a Pooh or Mickey costume to realize just how much joy we all have had in being with our parents or children or grandchildren at either Disneyland or Walt Disney World.

We all have a bit of Disney inside us — it’s where we keep all those great memories we treasure for a lifetime.  The Disney brand is really part of our DNA, isn’t it?

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In Service To The Mouse

In brand-building, Disney, Shopper Marketing on October 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

by Robert Liljenwall 

Working for a mouse wasn’t a bad job after all…

Jack Lindquist couldn’t even comprehend the idea of Walt Disney, a cartoonist and the creator of Mickey Mouse, investing $4 million for an amusement park in some place called Anaheim.  “What a joke.  Good luck, Mr. Disney.”  So much for first impressions.

Some 38 years and 500 million guests later Jack retired as Disneyland’s first president in 1993 after a storied career as Disney’s lead marketing executive and ‘brand steward’ for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Disneyland, it seems, didn’t quite turn out to be a joke! Jack reflected on this after his retirement and in his forthcoming book, “In Service To the Mouse”, which debuts in December.

In this remarkable 258-page recollection of his life and times as Disney’s key marketing executive, Jack recalls his myriad truly unique experiences from the opening day at Disneyland in 1955 to his final days as the first president of Disneyland, having been appointed by Michael Eisner in 1988. Jack not only thrived in the development of what became the ‘happiest place on Earth’, he was the chief creator and leader of a band of ‘Marketeers’ who invented the ‘theme park business’ – making both Disneyland and Walt Disney World the planet’s most popular and successful attractions ever.

Jack is a modest, almost too-humble 83-year old now – with a grin as broad as Main Street.  You can still see the pixie dust on his shoulders.  He is unabashedly Mickey Mouse’s biggest fan – and he is unbowed in his devotion and subservience to the character and preserver of the Disney Flame, a character Walt created on his train ride from Kansas City to Hollywood in 1928.  To Jack, Mickey Mouse is Disney and vice versa.  The two are inseparable, and there is, according to Jack, no better brand spokesperson for Disney even though Mickey can’t speak.

Jack’s career with Walt and Mickey didn’t exactly start out on the right foot. His initial skeptical impressions were not at odds with those in the entertainment and movie industry.  For example, he read that Disney’s ‘theme park’ would actually have an admission charge just to get in the place and on top of that, “… there would be no beer, wine or any alcoholic beverages, and no chewing gum would be sold in the park.  Nobody did that.”  And what, in God’s name, qualified Disney – who produced the first animated feature, Snow White, and other classics such as Bambi and Fantasia – to create an amusement park? Of course he wasn’t qualified, Jack thought.

And as incomprehensible as it seemed to Jack that Disney picked some place that was the ‘backwater of the hodge-podge’ that made up Southern California in the 1950s, Anaheim was obviously a poor choice.  This was a city noted mostly for orange groves, but as Disney’s research team predicted, Anaheim would be smack in the middle of California’s burgeoning growth southward, and it was only 26 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Jack admits that the more he read about this Disney fantasy, the more he became intrigued with the whole concept.  This would be no ordinary amusement park.  A graduate of the University of Southern California and an account executive for an LA-based advertising agency, Jack was smart enough to recognize that there might be something to this “theme park”.

Disney was offering American companies the opportunity to participate in the venture by sponsoring exhibits, attractions and shows.  TWA would sponsor the Ride to the Moon, Kodak would present the Photo Shop on Main Street … and, well, Jack got the idea real quick.  His agency worked for Kelvinator, one of the country’s leading refrigerator manufacturers at the time, and perhaps his client could play a role along with these other prestigious companies.  Jack proposed to Disneyland that Kelvinator offer a free ticket and additional ride tickets with a purchase of a Kelvinator product.  Disneyland’s brass liked the concept as it would be it’s first-ever promotion.  After some creative negotiating Disney agreed to do it with one condition – it would be held two months after Disneyland’s opening on July 17, 1955; Walt didn’t want anything to compete with his own opening-day festivities.

‘Black Sunday’ was an inauspicious opening … July 17, 1955

Jack remembers the chaos on opening day, July 17, 1955.  It was hot and Disneyland played host to an orchestrated private opening led by Ronald Reagan and Art Linkletter, but the park was unprepared for the turnout of 28,154 guests, employees and families.  They called it ‘Black Sunday’ but they got through it.  Millions more watched it on ABC-TV that evening – “Dateline: Disneyland”.  It was a smashing public relations coup.  Disneyland officially opened to the public the next day, on July 18, for $1 general admission and 10 to 35 cents for each attraction ticket.  The millionth guest arrived in September, and the Disneyland Hotel opened in October.

Anaheim, still sprouting orange groves, would never be the same.

After conducting a highly successful promotion for his client, Kelvinator, Jack was asked to be Disneyland’s first advertising manager in the fall of 1955, and he readily accepted.  And from that moment on, Jack was ‘hooked’.  He and his family moved to Orange County and from then on, he was thrust into a lifelong journey through uncharted waters.  He didn’t know it then, but he began working for a mouse!

The Disneyland team slowly learned how to manage the bigger-than-expected crowds who discovered this new entertainment extravaganza.  This was America’s new playground – a sparkling clean, well-mannered, fantasy-come-true experience for the whole family, or for a boy and a girl on their first date.

At first Disneyland featured Main Street USA, the Magic Castle, Jungle Ride and Fantasy Land.  New attractions opened every year such as Tom Sawyer’s Island, the Skyway, and Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks and Monsanto’s Plastics Home of the Future were added in 1957.  The first ‘E’ ticket rides were created in 1959 – The Matterhorn Bobsled, Disneyland-Alweg Monorail, and Submarine Voyage.  And since then, the ‘E’ ride has become a part of America’s lexicon, meaning “it was one helluva ride!”

Because Disney was a pioneer in this new ‘theme park’ business, every day was a new day. “There wasn’t any ‘map’ to follow,” Jack said.  “We were making it up as we went along.  Nobody had ever built or operated a ‘theme park’ – we had a whole new world we were creating.  Every attraction opening … every event or holiday … was new to us and to our guests.”

Jack remembers a touching story on Christmas Eve in 1957.  “It was late, near closing time, and I was following a family walking down Main Street, which was elaborately decked out in Christmas lights and decorations.  It was a magical scene only Disney could create.  The family stopped by the Emporium shop near Town Square and looked at the holiday-themed windows, and then stopped in front of this beautifully decorated Christmas tree with the mechanical Santa Claus and dolls greeting guests.  One of the kids said ‘Mom, this really is better than having Santa Claus.’  Yes, for this family, Disneyland was like ‘one big present’.  I never forgot that special moment because it represented all that Walt wanted Disneyland to be.”

During the next 10 years, Disneyland experienced exponential growth in attractions, new lands, and attendance.  Attendance shot up to over 10 million in 1965, making it the most popular outdoor attraction in the world by a large margin.  Along with such popular attractions as Small World, Great Moments with Mister Lincoln, Carousel of Progress, and Ride to the Moon, the next over-the-top ‘land’ and attraction opened in 1966 was New Orleans Square.

Tragedy struck the company that same year when Walt Disney died of cancer.  Jack remembers driving back to Disneyland that day and how everyone seemed so stunned at Walt’s passing.  He realized that Walt’s passing would leave a huge hole in the heart and soul of a company driven by his visionary, creative leadership.  Perhaps the landmark photo in Disney’s long history was of Mickey Mouse wiping a tear in front of the Magic Castle the day Walt died.  It appeared on the front page of practically every paper in the world.  Walt was loved that much.

A year after Walt’s passing, the Pirates of the Caribbean opened – a milestone in entertainment achievement, combining new audio-animatronic technology, set design, ride innovations and design, and creative story-telling that dazzled every guest brave enough to venture into the dark world of pirates … “Dead men tell no tales”.

Marketing success like no other…

Even though Jack likes to tell you that “we made it up as we went along,” the reality was that he and Disneyland were made for each other.  One of the characteristics that strike you when you first meet Jack is his unassuming persona – you know he occupies a powerful position within the Disney Empire, but he never wears that on his sleeve. Jack’s un-imposing stature is a ruse:  his smile never leaves him and his mind is working faster than a speeding monorail.  Blessed with more than his share of common sense and inner creative insight to the 10th power, Jack was at the forefront of protecting the Disney brand.

More importantly, however, Jack was also the inspirational brand steward for everything Disney.  From Walt to Donn Tatum to Card Walker to Ron Miller to Michael Eisner, each CEO looked to Jack and a small, intimate cadre of other long-time Disney executives, to give them their ‘read’ on what is the ‘right Disney thing to do’.  Jack had that uncanny sensitivity to help guide the Disney brand on the world’s biggest stages – Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Euro Disney.

His memoir traces personal and ‘grand public’ moments of his nearly 40 years at Disney that retell rather hilarious incidents as well as turning points in how the Disney brand became one of the world’s top 10 brands.

Jack and his team created benchmarks for what are now the accepted and given marketing programs within the entertainment world – such as group sales, a function not ever existing until Disneyland started selling groups to companies and schools.  The widely popular Magic Kingdom Club had thousands of companies in the US with more than 10 million members … private parties … grad nights … and a host of holiday-themed events that populated Disney parks.

With unparalleled marketing and brand power, Disney was the master at using ‘OPM’ – other people’s money – through its hugely successful sponsorship programs.  These relationships – formed at the birth of Disneyland in 1955 – became the fuel for Disney’s powerful marketing engine through creative and first-ever promotional co-branding. Disneyland and Disney World could deliver over-the-top marketing success with far smaller budgets than competitors.  Universal Studios Tour, for example, would spend 3x the money in marketing to attract 1/3 the audience.

Why is that?  Because Disneyland’s brand power was based on a phenomenally high customer satisfaction (98%) combined with nearly nine decades of producing hugely popular animated features and family-oriented movies, not to mention the world’s most valuable library of cartoon characters.

Who could compete with Disneyland’s incredibly creative and unique themed lands and rides, combined with Disney’s unmatched roster of animated characters who greeted you at the front gate – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Tinker Bell, Snow White, Br’er Bear, and of course, my favorite Winnie The Pooh.  This is what you call … Brand Power.

Jack Lindquist is a humble hero.  He shucks off all the legendary marketing firsts he created or supervised.  He devoted 38 years to creating, marketing, and protecting hundreds of Disney brands in a fantasy career.

In our next installment, we’ll talk about Yippie Day (a bad day for Disney), Walt Disney World, Epcot and the World Showcase, the fall and rise of Disney movies, and of Michael Eisner’s ascension and leadership of Walt Disney Company.  It’s a quite a ride.  Stay tuned!

[Editor’s note: “In Service to The Mouse” by Jack Lindquist, with Melinda J. Combs, debuts in early December.  It will be available on and after December 13, 2010.]

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