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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Merch! For Disney, This is the … Eisner Way?

 by Ray Keating



October 27, 2020


Disney cranking up the merchandise machine with Christmas less than two months away? Indeed, no other company does it quite like the House of Mouse. With a nod to The Mandalorian, Disney and merchandise: This is the way. And it’s an opportunity to give a nod to former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.


Consider two recent announcements from Disney.


On Mando Monday, October 26, the world was treated to a look at a host of Mandalorian products and digital content, with Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito.

What caught my attention? An 11-inch plush of the The Child that features sound and movement; The Child Animatronic Edition with Carrier that offers more than 25 sounds and movement combinations; and The Mandalorian edition of Monopoly. Yeah, I’m a sucker for The Child.


The day before, on October 25, Disney highlighted Christmas merch available at the Disney parks and at shopDisney.com. Disney noted that it has “some festive new collections featuring apparel, accessories and even homeware, coming your way.”


Seven – that’s right, seven! – collections were highlighted: 1) Disney Parks ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Collection, 2) Disney Parks Silver and Gold Collection, 3) Disney Parks x BaubleBar Holiday Collection, 4) Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa 2020 Holidays Collection, 5) Disneyland Paris 2020 Holidays Collection, 6) Tokyo Disney Resort 2020 Holidays Collection, and 7) Shanghai Disney Resort 2020 Holidays Collection.


No, Disney doesn’t kid around on the merch front. It all started with Walt and Roy, specifically when $300 was forked over to Disney in 1930 to put Mickey Mouse on stationery.  But Michael Eisner excelled at articulating and advancing it all in rather dramatic ways, and the company has never looked back.


For Eisner, merch was simply part of the synergy at Disney. As quoted Inside the Disney Marketing Machine by Lorraine Santoli, Eisner once said, “The term synergy may be the object of ridicule throughout the world, but not at Disney. This concept of cross-promotion and transformation of popular products into new media is an engine that helps drive our company. Synergy, for us, goes with creativity—which rhymes with selectivity—which means keeping one’s eye on the ball.”


And in another quote, Eisner explained, “We insisted that each division help the other fellow. For the Disney Company, ‘help the other fellow’ meant the movie division would create a film…that could become a theme park ride or attraction…that could become a consumer product…that could become a television show…that could become a film sequel…that could become a cable show…that could become an international attraction…that could become a musical on Broadway…it goes on and on. But to accomplish that, everybody had to cooperate with each other, with no place for jealousy, and no competition between divisions. That’s an unlikely reality in corporate America. But at Disney, we worked things differently.”


This is the way – and it definitely includes Disney merch.




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.


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