For nearly a century, The Walt Disney Company has been refining the art of connected marketing. We did not call it connected marketing back on the day Walt Disney conceived of his idea to change the world while sitting in a park watching his daughter play. Nonetheless Walt Disney and his namesake company have been practising and refining the art of connected marketing from the company’s inception.
From my vantage point, Disney embodies the essences of connected marketing. The company and its cast members strive to create value for and with people, not from them. They do not just encourage us to reach for our dreams, but to have the courage to pursue them. Even if this requires that we step over the ropes that bound our path.
After spending the last couple of days at Disneyland in LA with my family and friends I remain awestruck at the excruciating lengths Disney goes to embody the spirit of the connected marketer. Disney embraces the four primary tasks so that it may serve. It enfolds the four human dimensions within its products and services, and is clearly expending every effort to master and refine the seven layers of connectivity. I found this to be true at every turnstile, every corner, and every intentional encounter.Take the four primary tasks, for instance. In just one of its four operating divisions, the resorts and parks, Disney has reportedly identified over 2,000 moments of truth, micro-moments, that are critical to the individual’s Disney journey. Disney has used insights from journey mapping to develop understanding, to enable engagement, and streamline the individual’s experience so that it may serve the individual. Moreover, to accomplish this, like Starbucks, Disney has not shied away from, but embraced connected technologies. We see technology deftly deployed throughout the Disney experience. But, what I found most intriguing from my two days at Disneyland this week was how Disney is masterfully unifying the four human dimensions to solder a bond with those it serves.
This week, I soared around the world, at least for 4 minutes or so, on Disney’s California Adventure Soarin' Around the World ride. Once strapped into the chair, I was lifted into the air and presented with visual wonders of the world: mountains, plains, islands, oceans, and monuments of human ingenuity. The visuals are, as would be expected, perfectly synchronized with music, given that Disney was the first to sync music to movies. But, to my delight, as I soured over the back of elephants on the plains I was presented with gentle winds in my face and the smells of fresh dirt and grass. I was then whisked over outriggers in Fiji, where I could almost taste the sweet spray of the sea, and as I approached the Taj Mahal I was blanketed by the comforting fragrance of flowers. Disney used motion, air, and smells, to stimulate the senses, and trigger in me, both joy and gratitude, if not also just a bit of nausea as we dropped in to Brazil’s Iguassu Falls.
To be clear, this one ride was not a fluke, but an intentional decision to integrate the four human dimensions throughout the Disney experience. For example, in the Frozen production, snow (well it was foam actually) drifted down on those enjoying the show. And in the Cars ride we heard and felt the power of the engines. I saw Disney’s intention in nearly every ride, stage play and restaurant. If I missed this intention in any of the rides, I’m sure the error was mine.
One of the people I was travelling with noted that he’s been to Disneyland 300 or more times and keeps finding new nooks and crannies to explore. Disney literally, leaves no rock or page unturned, no rope idly dangling, especially with the unexpected. For example, in the Indiana Jones Adventure: “Temple of the Forbidden Eye” experience, there is a rope dangling from a ceiling covered in menacing spikes. A sign next to the rope says “Do not touch.” Randy, my experienced and mischievous friend, started vigorously shaking the rope. The rules-follower in me screamed out, “Dude, what are you doing, the sign clearly say’s don’t do that.” But, to my delight, Randy showed me that sometimes if you have the courage to break the “rules”, to explore where you’re supposedly not supposed to go, you’ll be rewarded. A few seconds after Randy had grabbed the rope, the spiked riddled ceiling started to shake, rumble, and slowly come down on us, stopping after ten inches, to the squeals and joy of the kids I was with.
Throughout the rest of the day I learned of numerous hidden secrets and mysteries of Disney, like Club 33, a private club located in the heart of the New Orleans Square, or the all too human realities and struggles hidden behind characters like Pooh. The adventurous part of me was thrilled with the fact that Disney intentionally left these Easter Eggs to break open and experience, but then the conformist part of me questions the lesson that is taught when your rewarded by “breaking the rules.” I’ll need to ruminate on this.
To all the connected marketers and would be connected marketers out there, Disney demonstrates that it is possible serve the individual, provide experiences that are unique to the individual, but generalized enough to service the many. They show that they live their motto that “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”