Walt Disney’s marketing strategies for diversity: Disney Corporation is an American media and entertainment conglomerate. The company owns ABC Broadcast Network, ESPN, FOX, National Geographic, and others (Wikipedia). McCastle A. (2020, Medium.com) notes that Disney has incorporated diverse characters into its recent shows and films. The importance of representing marginalized groups has grown over the years. Due to this, Disney has produced stories that address these issues. People of colour and LGBTQ people have also been underrepresented in media, especially in movies. Since the issue became a high priority in society, Disney has made a significant effort to represent these groups in its films.
According to Haner K (universe.byu.edu, 2015), A variety of cultures are appearing in children’s movies. For mothers who want to expose their families to a variety of cultures, Disney’s efforts have influenced children’s views of diversity and how they relate to characters. My perspective is that Disney is doing well and has overcome its past difficulties. By implementing “World of Belonging”. Disney (impact.disney.com) showcases stories and storytellers that reflect the rich diversity of our world. The company launched a company-wide initiative in 2020 to advance opportunities for diverse communities, amplify underrepresented voices, and champion diversity in the entertainment industry.
Based on all those details, we can conclude that Disney is doing a great job of promoting diversity and working for black communities. Now let’s look at Walt Disney’s marketing strategies for diversity using a SWOT analysis. Our knowledge of the previous issue and Disney’s steps to resolve it is already established. SWOT analysis is needed to analyze those marketing strategies. So, let’s begin
- Speaking Up Because Black Lives Matter
- Celebrating AAPI Stories
- Promote Diversity in Dream Big, Princess Photography Campaign
- Lack of LGBTQ+ leads
- Lack of diverse characters
- promises more diverse characters
- Promote Diversity via Films
- Eid film for the Muslim community
- Against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, but not properly
- Ethical failures
- “Diversity and inclusion” program
- Racist History
- Religious Issues
- Speaking Up Because Black Lives Matter: Disney Channel published the video on June 3, 2020. Disney featured some African Boys, Girls, and Children in this video and made the statement, “Listen, Learn, Heal, we stand for humanity, solidarity, and justice.”. In the end, we see the phrase, “Speaking up because Black Lives Matter”. Also, Disney Channel published a video called “What to Watch on Disney+ to Celebrate Black Stories” On February 16, 2022, by sharing this video, Disney wishes to celebrate Black stories with some incredible films and series that Shortly describe all of these series, all of which are about African Americans.
- Celebrating AAPI Stories: “Celebrating AAPI Stories” was released by Disney Channel on May 26, 2021. Here we see Asian characters from Disney and Marvel movies. Asian American and Pacific Islander stories are celebrated by Disney. Their message is “As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month draws to a close, remember that anything is possible.”
- Promote Diversity in Dream Big, Princess Photography Campaign: A Disney Channel video called Dream Big, Princess Photography Campaign was released in August 2017. This video emphasizes girls, but if you watch closely, the models are diverse. Asian, African, American, and European models are available. Subliminally, this video communicates Disney’s commitment to diversity while empowering women.
- Lack of LGBTQ+ leads: According to kfor.com, Karey Burke (Disney’s President of General Entertainment Content) expressed sadness about the lack of LGBTQ+ leads. Disney’s movies lack LGBTQ characters despite their popularity with queer fans, according to GLAAD. The studio released only four LGBTQ characters in 2019, and none met GLAAD’s requirement that queer characters be directly tied to the plot.
- Lack of diverse characters: Children look up to Disney characters as inspiring figures, according to theunreadinitiative.org. They might not be getting the full picture due to only one dominant skin tone. Children may feel lonely and isolated when the media ignores them. In the United States, people of colour constitute a substantial part of the population, but they are not accurately represented in films.
- Promises more diverse characters: It has been reported on news.com.au that a Disney executive has vowed to include more diversity in its content, with no fewer than 50% of its characters being LGBTQIA and racial minorities.
- Promote Diversity via Films: Herzindagi (Purwar K, 2022) states Disney promotes diversity through films. Disney princesses are loved by all children. They were all white. Beauty and colour standards have been accepted as superior to those that do not reflect them. The films didn’t represent us. We didn’t see any princesses with brown or black skin tones. Due to the recent racially diverse Disney movies, we could relate to diverse characters. Therefore, we felt globally represented and connected.
- Eid film for the Muslim community: According to Sami R. (english.alaraby.co.uk, 2020), Disney’s new streaming platform Disney+ recently announced that they would release a short film titled ‘American Eid’. A Pakistani family that emigrates to the United States is the subject matter of the film, which is currently in development.
- Against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, but not properly: According to Buercklin K. (lsureveille.com, 2022), Disney has been heavily criticized lately. Disney employees and fans protested in March for failing to speak out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and donating to Florida’s Republican Party. Orlando Sentinel reports only one person attended Disney World in Florida, and most “protests” took place in California, which is not affected by Florida’s law. The New York Times reported that 60 to 70 Disney employees walked out and only walked around Walt Disney Studios.
- Ethical failures: Port Neches-Groves High School performed at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL in March and its mascot is a Native American, according to lsureveille.com. During their drill routine at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Park, the school’s drill team, the Indianize, wore Native American clothing and chanted “Scalp ’em Indians, scalp ’em.” CNN reports the Cherokee Nation has repeatedly requested the school change its mascot. Disney allows the school to perform, reinforcing harmful racial stereotypes.
- “Diversity and inclusion” program: Rufo C. F. (city-journal.org, 2021) reveals Disney leadership has elevated critical race theory into a new corporate doctrine and taught employees about “systemic racism,” “white privilege,” “white fragility,” and “white saviours.” Additionally, he obtained whistleblower documents about Disney’s “diversity and inclusion” program, “Reimagine Tomorrow,” revealing its support for racism. Some Disney employees have reported to him that the Reimagine Tomorrow program has become deeply politicized and has caused racial conflict.
- Religious Issues: Disney faces some religious issues when supporting the LGBT community. LGBTQ people are not supported by all religions. The Bible and the Quran have been interpreted to make LGBTQ identity sinful, reports independent.co.uk (Gander K., 2017). Thus, some countries may ban such movies. The ‘Lightyear’ Movie was an example. The Middle East has banned Pixar’s new animated film Lightyear due to its use of a same-sex kiss, according to Elpais.com. The movie will not be screened in some countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
To conclude, The Walt Disney Company may only plan its expansion by addressing its threats. The company also has some weaknesses, but planning can help it minimize the impact of these weaknesses on its growth. Several steps are taken by the Company to prevent threats and restore its reliability. Disney and Pixar director Pete Docter told Tech Insider that in the particular case of ‘Inside Out’ the team wanted to make the ideas and emotions work for an international audience, not just a domestic one. That means they already started changing some parts of movies for different countries to represent different countries. They can overcome their threats by doing so. When we examine the SWOT analysis, we can see that Disney has already begun a considerable amount of work to convert its weaknesses into strengths. However, Disney should be more sensitive to people’s thoughts, emotions, cultural and religious beliefs.
At the end of the day, one can conclude that Disney is doing a very good job of promoting diversity through their marketing as well as through their films.