Disney Media Restructures to be 'Proactive’

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Tricia Wilber says Disney Media Advertising Sales and Marketing Group will enable the kids’ media giant to be both “proactive and reactive” in its quest to match clients’ products across an array of platforms.

Wilber, who had been Disney ABC Cable Networks Group’s senior vice president of advertising sales and promotions, was tapped to head the restructured advertising-sales and promotion group last week.

As executive vice president, Wilber will lead a team to drive all advertising sales, marketing and promotions across TV platforms, including Toon Disney, sponsorship-supported Disney Channel and Saturday-morning kids’ fare on ABC. Wilber and crew will also push availabilities on such online offerings as Disney.com, publishing titles like Disney Adventures magazine and Radio Disney.

“We want our senior team to be able to step in front of clients and say these are the best ways they can reach kids moving through their integrated media worlds,” she said. “Our goal is to streamline that process, to make it easier and more efficient for them to use our different properties.”

Wilber also said the new structure will facilitate “our reaction when clients want to target different platforms.”

To that end, account executives will continue to specialize in the various media. “It’s hard to be an expert about all of the properties,” she said, adding that clients still retain an array of advertising agencies to buy and plan against the varied vehicles.

Disney, which held its kids’ upfront-advertising presentation in Manhattan Thursday, joins other top kids’ players Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network in peddling an array of properties under one sales roof.

Wilber emphasized that while the new structure should trigger more multiplatform buys, Disney had not been hampered in its integrated abilities. She pointed to packages involving girls retailer Club Libby Lu, which sells Disney Consumer Products licensed lines tied to Hannah Montana and High School Musical. The retailer will soon benefit from a sweepstakes-driven event, touted by messaging on Disney Channel, as well as online and via Radio Disney.

At the network’s upfront presentation, Wilber and Gary Marsh, president of Disney Channel Worldwide, not only talked up the new sales structure, but the service’s position atop basic cable among kids 6 to 11 and tweens 9 to 14 in primetime for a fourth consecutive year, as well as its second-place finish in households and total viewers to USA Network in primetime during 2006.

As for programming, the Disney Channel Games 2007, a reprise of the network stars competing in various games, an obstacle course and mental and physical challenges, was heralded as a multiplatform play, with extensions on Radio Disney and Disney Channel.com, plus two-half hour specials and weekly short-form fare on the network. Wilber’s team is offering advertisers sponsorships of the short-form programming, and the opening and closing ceremonies. It is also extending the opportunities to various Radio Disney fan events, Disney Adventures advertorials and online sites dedicated to the games at Disneychannel.com.

Next fall, Disney Channel will premiere live-action comedy series Wizards, created and executive-produced by Todd Greenwald (Hannah Montana) in which three siblings engage in typical family squabbles with one difference, they’re all wizards in training but only will retain the powers at age 18.

Next winter, Disney Channel plans to launch Phineas and Ferb, a comedy from Walt Disney Television Animation in which two stepbrothers want to make every day of their summer vacation significant, with such creations as a backyard roller coaster and the world’s largest popsicle.

As for Playhouse Disney, the computer-generated animation series My Friends Tigger & Pooh will join the preschool lineup in May. Fall, meanwhile, is expected to mark the arrival of puppet comedy Bunny Town, inhabited by a group of bouncing rabbits engaged in song, dance and hilarity.

The network’s original movies franchise, which has been driving some of the top ratings in basic cable in recent years, was also trumpeted, with an emphasis on sequels. Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board, which follows last summer’s telefilm Johnny Tsunami, is set for June, while High School Musical 2 is in the cue for August. Twitches Too, starring Tia and Tamera Mowry (Sister, Sister) comes behind the 2005 Halloween movie based on the mystery/adventure book series, T*Witches.

Disney Channel is taking things a step forward with a “trequel,” The Cheetah Girls 3. This time, Chanel, Aqua and Dorinda will travel to India to star in a Bollywood production.

Also in the pipeline: caper comedy Dadnapped; and the CG-animated Franklin B.C., a fish out of water comedy in which the smartest kid in school is a caveman who must acclimate to his new surroundings.

For its part, Toon Disney will add Disney Channel series The Replacements to its roster, and feature 21 and 26 new episodes of Kim Possible and Yin Yang Yo, respectively.

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