The Science behind the Magic

IAB UK’s yearly Engage conference took place yesterday at Barbican Centre and was jam-packed with speakers ranging from author Nick Lovell (The Curve) to the likes of Piers Morgan and Jack Whitehall. This year’s theme was Higher Ground and covered a range of topics related to data and digital disruption. OMD EMEA President, Nikki Mendonça sat down with Disney’s CMO Anna Hill for a Q&A session titled “Disney – The Science behind the Magic”. Given that this year has been Disney’s most successful year ever in the consumer products space, it’s obvious that there is clever thinking and direction behind the magical worlds that the company immerses their audiences in.

According to Anna Hill, the science behind this success greatly centres on data that absolutely puts the consumer at the centre of everything. Extensive and consistent research is regularly commissioned to identify and truly understand what Disney customers want. These efforts are tailored to each different audience segment in a way that brings to life products and research outputs. However, data is also being used by the company to bring convenience and ease to customers. We were told that MagicBands (a connected wristband launched at Disney parks in Florida last year) have been very popular with customers as they help maximise their park experience by pre-loading their travel preferences and currency/payment for extras purchased on-site.

Disney’s use of data even extends to brand partnerships as they look to embark on bigger but fewer of these. Data to measure brand equity and values is analysed to identify which partnerships best fit the brand vis-à-vis audiences. A great example of such a collaboration was Jimmy Choo’s Cinderella range of luxury shoes, which were launched alongside the film’s release.

However, Disney’s CMO warns that taking risks is necessary in order for brands to stand the test of time but that a bit of data/science should back up the rationale for risk. After all marketers need to balance science and data with their gut instinct.


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