rp Reacts: Disney's 100th Anniversary

Updated on
April 14, 2024

Out team's take on the magical brand's impact.

When thinking of the most influential brands of the past century, you can hardly skip over The Walt Disney Company. Since the start, those at Disney have been game-changers in marketing, innovation, and imaginative creation.

The Walt Disney company is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. Read our team’s thoughts on the magical brand’s impact: 

Growing up as a Floridian an hour away from Orlando, I have certainly had my fair share of Disney exposure over the years—from core memories at Magic Kingdom when I was a little kid, to playing soccer tournaments at the Wide World of Sports complex, to eagerly awaiting the next big Pixar release. We all know that Disney as an overall brand is massive. But rarely do we ever stop and really think about HOW massive it truly is. There is no sector of the entertainment industry that they haven’t either created on their own or successfully disrupted.

Disney has perfectly mastered the art of authentic storytelling in a way that lets every consumer feel like they’re right there in the middle of it, and that they can (and should) craft their own part of the story, too. And fans of Disney are so intertwined with the characters, stories, and experiences they have with the brand that there will inevitably always be folks chomping at the bit for the next show, movie, product, or attraction. 

As a park goer and a Disney fan throughout my life, and now as a person working in the production space, it’s unbelievable to witness such a level of constant creativity and sustained success. They have been the showpiece for innovation, imagination and marketing for their first 100 years—and there’s no doubt in my mind that they will continue to hold that crown for the next 100, too.

Riley Collins, Studio Director

My journey with Disney started with the animated films. I remember I used to get so anxious when I heard a film was going into the Disney Vault. Anyone else a sucker for scarcity marketing? Then there were the experiences. Disney World, Disney on Ice, Disney on Broadway, and the Disney Store at the mall—I remember the feeling of being immersed in all of my favorite characters and stories. And then of course came my devoted Disney Channel teen era (a rite of passage).

Looking back, I realize now that this was really my first omni-channel brand experience. And as I’ve gotten older, my connection with the brand has shifted from one of amusement to one of nostalgia, but it’s stayed strong nonetheless, and I’d say that’s pretty magical.

Jesse Spear, Senior Marketing Manager

Disney is a master of all things brand and experience. Whenever you watch a Disney movie, they immerse you in what you are watching so well that you forget what is going on outside of that. It is an escape for most, which is the goal of any entertainment. Did you know that when you are at Disney World in a theme park, there are no TV’s to show news or sports, no newspaper stands, and very little clocks—it all serves the greater purpose of allowing you to be present in the moment. 

Disney is consistent, evoking the Disney Magic feeling across everything they do. One of Walt Disney’s famous quotes is, "If you can dream it, you can do it,” and I believe that clinging to that over the past 100 years is what made them who they are today. They don’t believe in the impossible. The innovation and creation that comes out of Disney is always unique, and one step ahead (maybe more) of anyone else. They push the boundaries, and inspire the future generation that there is magic out there and that’s the Disney difference.

Sara Keyes, Project Manager

Disney has been so successful in bringing more cultures to the forefront in a non-performative way. Stories often have a tendency to depict vague representations of individuals who are brown, Asian, Pacific Islander, etc. In recent years, Disney has been better about recognizing the uniqueness of each and making it easy to emotionally engage, regardless of the audience's identity. Have I ever cried at a Disney movie? No. But did I cry at the Disney short about Christmas in the Philippines? Yes. I have never spent Christmas in the Philippines, but the representation of the characters, the mentions of “Lola” (grandmother), the palm to the forehead as a sign of respect—it all hit me straight in the chest. It was so specific and thoughtful, and that’s what sets Disney apart.

Other examples:
+ Encanto being specifically about Colombian culture (not just vaguely Latin)

+ Moana being about Polynesian culture with nods such as Maui’s haka and the fundamental mythology

+ Bao (Disney/Pixar short) with a different take on the Chinese mother

When your culture naturally flows with mainstream media, you feel more a part of the collective, and that feeling alone is such a special thing to achieve.

Allison Mendoza, Project Manager

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