January 17, 2012 Leave a comment
“In planning a new picture, we don’t think of grownups and we don’t think of children, but just of that fine, clean, unspoiled spot down deep in every one of us that maybe the world has made us forget and that maybe our picture can help recall.” - Walt Disney
Disney’s perspective of product development and fan respect offers great clarity to the commitment Disney (and Pixar) makes to its fans. It’s a commitment that continues resounds in a entertainment business where the power of fanship and fandom (the emotional connection consumers make in defining their self concept and in socially connecting around any given entertainment) is often manhandled.
Celebrity and sports marketing is an easy area to illustrate fan manhandling. Be it the bad boy behavior of the overt addict in Charlie Sheen, or the illegal behavior of athletes like Michael Vick or the cheating done by Patriot’s coach Bill Belichick. Still, those very celebrities thrive and the legalized monopoly of our major league teams continues to flourish and raise prices even in a recessionary period.
Contrast this to the positive effect of an athlete like Tim Tebow and an organization like Disney. They demonstrate just how eager fans are to connect to people and companies that respect the adoration of their fans and show it by how they act in a social responsible fashion.
Entertainment marketers make daily ethical choices that play on the “love” of their core fans who demonstrate their affection with hard-earned dollars. Just like in a relationship between two people, that love needs to be treated respectfully. Sure monetization has to happen to sustain sport, music, movies, art and all entertainment. But ethical consideration and social responsibility in marketing decisions and behavior can go a long way to creating value and insuring sustainable revenue from your fans. Disney and Tim Tebow are great examples of the of creating value by valuing fanship and fandom.
Room for discussion:
The CBS Evening News reported in this video on the results of a probe that found 1 in 14 college football players had a criminal record. If you were the marketing director for the University of Pittsburgh Panther football team under the conditions in the video, what affect would the high presence of criminal records have on your marketing of the team? How would it affect your position as marketing director? What would you do about it?