Disney prioritises ‘audience centricity’ in commercial overhaul

The media giant says it is changing its sales and partnerships strategy to become more linked up and have a “broader offering” across its different brands.


Disney is bringing together its ESPN and Disney sales teams so it can “be more relevant” and “better serve” advertisers that are looking to target the same audiences across different platforms.

Its integrated ad sales, promotions and marketing solutions division Disneymedia+ will now be called Disney Media Sales and Partnerships. It will incorporate Disney, ESPN and digital media brand Maker Studios under one sales and partnerships roof. By working with its entire portfolio, Disney hopes to offer brand partners a broader audience.

Alan Fagan will be leading this new integrated team in the UK and report into the brand’s chief marketing officer Anna Hill.

Disney announced the overhaul at its Digital Upfronts event yesterday evening (15 June), but Marketing Week spoke to Hill ahead of the event to discuss the changes. She says The Walt Disney Company has been in the process of “integrating” over the last few years, and that is now “much more focused” on audiences.

“For example, a dad might be into sport watching ESPN, but also looking for something to do with his family at the weekend. Our strategy is much more audience centric. We are bringing brands together, so [advertisers] can target the same audiences on different platforms,” she says.

“It just feels like we need to challenge ourselves to offer the most relevant and broadest proposition. We could have continued as we are, but ultimately there is crossover. This world is complex, media consumption is changing and we are just trying to make it simpler and more compelling at the same time. Hopefully [these changes] should achieve that.”

When asked if the changes were implemented due to confusion among advertisers about Disney’s different brands and to fight falling media spend, Hill instantly rejects this and says the department “is in good health”, having done more partnerships this year than ever before. That said, she says she is realistic about the challenges ahead and that the business needs to stay abreast of digital disruption.

“While TV is still a stalwart for my marketing plans, we need to make sure as the world’s second-biggest media organisation, that we have platforms that are digitally-led. We want to offer strong TV and digital solutions at the same time,” she adds.

Reaching new audiences

Hill says Disney is looking to work with brands spanning a broad range of categories going forward, but that it is eager to move its agenda forward on healthy living. Disney has previously launched campaigns encouraging parents to make healthier food choices and to let their children take part in regular physical activity.

She concludes: “We have Star Wars coming out and the partners we’re looking at will be brands that are in the healthy living space that pushes our activity or healthy agenda. We really do want to help move the agenda forward, and bring broader audiences into our offering. We have a big female audience with Star Wars, so our partnerships are also focused on bringing in female audiences.”