Disney's Anna Hill: get involved and love your brand

Anna Hill: Disney's UK and Ireland chief marketing officer
Anna Hill: Disney's UK and Ireland chief marketing officer

Anna Hill didn't become Disney's UK and Ireland chief marketing officer by just focusing on the big things.

Be willing to get involved

I was thrown into everything early in my career and was very happy to get on with it. I have handed out Tango on the streets of Leicester and Vitamalt at the Notting Hill Carnival, and done voiceovers for brands when talent didn’t show up.

I think being proactive and positive is a huge strength. Although I am able to delegate, I still like the "doing" bit. I want to present to other brands, write presentations and develop creative ideas that come to fruition. There are things I do that I don’t feel so good at – but I make myself do them so that I get better.

Love your brand

I can honestly say that I have felt passionate about all the brands I have worked for – and none more so than Disney and its portfolio of brands, from Star Wars to Disney Princess.

This helps, because you want to get it right and do your best. We look at our brands through so many lenses and with so much care and attention. We commission and learn from tons of research and insight to make sure we are looking at different perspectives and broadening our audiences.

Learn each other’s strengths and ‘less strengths’

Getting to know your peers, your team and your bosses is really important. Start to understand where you fit, where you can lead and where you need others to lead.

Learn that you cannot be great at everything and that people are better than you at certain things – so let them shine.

This takes confidence and I have had to learn this. It’s easy to be hard on yourself but, once you start to feel good about what you do, you allow others to grow. I constantly encourage people to come forward with creative ideas.

Everyone thinks when you start your journey in an organisation that it is all worked out, that someone has the "grand plan". It’s not true. We have a clear mission – to entertain families. But we will constantly be exploring new ways to do this, and the best ideas can come from anyone in the organisation. Be open to that.

Don’t just focus on the big things

I was told by a boss once to stop sweating the small stuff, that no-one would notice it. I don’t agree. I know we cannot do everything we want to do and that we need to prioritise and be smart with our efforts. But the small things count too – maybe to a smaller audience but, to that audience, they really matter.

We manage big brands: Frozen, Marvel’s The Avengers, Cars – and we really put a great deal of thinking into how to grow these brands, how to unlock more touchpoints for our audiences. But we also have smaller opportunities that make a big difference.

A good example is Disney Party, our online event-planning solution – it’s free and helps parents plan and purchase for their kid’s impending party. 

An exciting future – brands and society win

The best part of being a marketer is that you are surrounded by your competitors and brands every day, so you don’t stop learning. I would go as far as to say that every day I see something that makes me think differently about something.

On my Facebook feed, I see comments on brands that change my opinion even if the video didn’t persuade me by itself. It is so powerful that the actual ad didn’t work but that the reaction of other people influences me.

I am also so inspired by the increased focus on social responsibility – where companies as well as individuals are able to make a huge difference. I love when the two things come together and a brand can deliver its message while promoting a great cause.

At Disney, we are very focused on using the good of our characters and stories to help make a positive change, whether that’s getting families to be healthier or helping children to be more confident about who they are.

Anna Hill is chief marketing officer at Disney UK and Ireland, and general manager of Disneymedia+, which is responsible for all brand collaborations. She joined the company in 2000. Before that, Hill held a variety of roles in ad agencies, sales and promotion, and publishing.

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