Q&A: Bobi Carley, Disneymedia+ commercial director on brand partnerships

As Disney’s Marvel Avengers Assemble movie smashes box office records, Bobi Carley, commercial director and Charlie Coleman, general manager of promotions at Disneymedia+ brand partnership division talk to Marketing Week about progress the division has made since launching a year ago.


Marketing Week (MW): Disneymedia+ was set up last year to help Disney partner with other brands, and the release of Avengers Assemble (26 April) saw the first instance of product placement as part of a wider partnership with men’s underwear brand Aussiebum – how does that show the scope of Disneymedia+ partnerships?

Charlie Coleman (CC): Aussiebum is already a really successful company, but as with a lot of out partnerships it’s about the brand being a part of the zeitgeist, as a way of creating a moment for a brand.

We worked with Aussiebum right from the start of production on the movie, which shows that it’s not difficult to liaise that kind of involvement in a Hollywood movie from London [where Disneymedia+ is based].

MW: Now that Disneymedia+ has been up and running for a year, what are the areas of focus for Disney and brand partnerships in the coming year?

Bobi Carley (BC): Our big focus is mobile and digital and our social networks are growing massively so we’re now looking at how we can work with brands more strategically on these platforms. We’re working with some technology partners in areas where they need content and we have it and we’re also looking to create bespoke games for brands.

But what we’re really interested in is developing more long-term campaigns and more strategic, on-going partnerships. We also haven’t tapped into the whole Marvel business or the whole of Disney’s ABC business so there are lots of opportunities.

MW: What are the challenges of communicating the broad scope of Disney’s portfolio to potential partners that might not necessarily think Disney’s brands are the right fit?

BC: We’re still educating the market about what we can offer because working with Disney is a huge proposition and it’s not simple to understand all the possibilities.

People automatically assume that Disney is about kids and that the opportunities are for kids platforms, but it’s the whole of Disney like ABC and the Marvel franchise is great to target men. It’s such a broad proposition and that’s the biggest myth to dispel to other brands.

People also tend to assume that the partnership has to be huge and that it will be a big undertaking but that’s not the case. We [Disneymedia+] were created to make it easier for smaller scale partnerships as well as larger ones.

CC: Later this summer we’ll be working with small potato brand Alfred Bartlett on a partnership with the upcoming animation Brave – it’s not a multibillion deal but the way we work with them is the same as if it was a multibillion partnership.

MW: What sector is Disneymedia+ hoping to work with more in terms of partnerships for upcoming releases?

CC: Technology is an area we’re exploring more and more and Disney is trying to work more with digital and mobile platforms to bring more value to our audiences through collaborations.

MW: Where do Disney and its brand partners see the biggest impact of partnership campaigns?

BC: Our focus is on delivering value and that’s why we’re investing so much in researching the long term and looking at case studies that show different parts of Disney partnerships, but we’re finding that experiential, while it’s difficult to measure, puts the brand in places where the Disney mindset and values really work for a brand. The reach is small, but combined with broader media reach experiential is huge for perception change and we want to do more of that to add value.