Disney CMO: I encourage my kids to ask me questions about what I do at work

Disney CMO: I encourage my kids to ask me questions about what I do at work

The changing face of media and retail poses big challenges - but it's just as important for marketers to support healthy lifestyles and strong family relationships, writes Disney's UK chief marketing officer

Kids, families and health

It’s a big area – pertinent to me as an individual and to us as a business.

We have to encourage children to do more exercise and get off their phones and iPads; to eat healthier foods and take more care of their bodies.

We can, and have, been doing a lot at Disney, especially using our characters to try and change behaviour. I know that I use anything my kids love to get them to change their behaviour.

We have already partnered with the FA around Girls’ Football Week, as well as Vitality and Change4Life and for us it is a long term commitment.

But we’re always asking ourselves "how can we do more?" "how can we demonstrate we are a brand with purpose?" and that others should partner with our brands and programmes so that we can share the effort and share in the positive effects? We have the appetite to do more but sometimes it’s overwhelming on where to focus.

Retail landscape

As we hear in the news daily, the retail landscape is changing.

At the Disney Store, we were always ahead of the game in that we always thought shopping should be an experience for our guests and more than just an opportunity to buy, so all of our staff are trained to put on events and give the best guest service.

However we are all being tested – for example how do we recreate this experience online without slowing down the purchase? And what more experiences can we bring to the physical retail space?

We’re always wrestling with how we can offer the breadth of Disney in one place. We have the kids’ play areas in Westfield and we partnered with The Void to bring the Secrets of the Empire Star Wars VR experience to fans, but what’s next?

Relevancy of brands

Some of our brands have been around for 90 years – it’s Mickey Mouse’s 90th birthday this year – but we are still connecting him and Minnie with popular culture and making sure they remain relevant, whether that’s through art, fashion, photography and music.

And even for newer stories like Frozen, where these strong female characters are so popular, we are constantly battling with the desire to create new touch points for our consumers but having to ensure we retain their brand values and stay true to the stories that people fell in love with in the first place.

Media industry

Like retail, this is changing so quickly. TV is still important, but is now just a part of the marketing mix, as opposed to being so totally reliant on it.

This challenges us to create content in the right formats for the right platforms. Insights are key here to understand where our audiences are, what they are talking about and how we can contribute to the conversation.

It also means we need to allow our guests to drive the conversation sometimes. We work a lot more with influencers and platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and we’re still learning how to use these together to get the best results - we don’t always get it right but we quickly learn how to trial and improve things.

It’s essential to keep our teams (including me!) up to speed on the latest trends and platforms – and work with your agencies, partners and specialists so that you can learn together.

Family time

As our lives get busier and busier, this is so important for all of us. I’m always thinking of what we can do that we will all enjoy – especially as I have two teenagers.

So holidays and weekends are special – simple things like walking the dog, movie nights (and finding good movies that we all want to watch, on the various platforms we now all have), going to the theatre or out to restaurants. Watching them play sports.

It’s also about encouraging them to ask questions about what I do - it’s not all about them. Disney is really supportive of flexible working and rightly so, because as a family brand we champion the family unit.

I personally have the pull and push of work and home. My kids pull me up on it, and it’s good for me. With GCSEs coming up, I have put in my diary that I am taking my son to school on those days where he has exams – I want to be part of his support system and be involved in the conversation and preparation.

Anna Hill is chief marketing officer at Diney UK and Ireland, and a member of Campaign's Power 100

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