The ubiquity of media in our society in general and the use of internet in particular have “shrunk the world”. Media has made the whole world a unity and media conglomerates play very huge role in it. Disney is the largest media conglomerate in the world, according Fortune 500’s 2010 annual ranking. Since the 1930s, the Walt Disney Company has been captivating audiences all over the world with their characters, images and stories. Disney has been a powerful force in creating childhood culture all over the world. However, it is no longer limited to being a children’s television network. It is a trans- national media conglomerate owning television and radio networks, cable systems, internet sites, music studios, media production companies, magazines, sports teams, theatres and theme parks.
“Disneyisation” is one of most important forces of globalization today. In a world where marketing strategies and entertainment are getting more and more inter- connected, children and adolescents form an important part of the marketing strategies as they are the most undoubting consumers; and they are Disnney’s major consumers. An important one of those marketing strategies is hybrid consumption, whereby the various forms of consumption associated with different institutional spheres, those of which are all connected with a particular initial product, becomes interlocked with each other. In this age of media abundance, Disney is one of the major contributors to hybridisation of products. It is now involved in numerous media industries like film production, book publishing, music TV channels and networks, retail stores, amusement parks, newspapers, magazines and the like. The profit made with a combination of all these is so much more than the profits they bring about individually. In other words, along with the screening of a movie from Disney, one can buy the characters, books, DVDs, other merchandise and possibly watch spin- off TV shows or even go to the corresponding website to play games and gain access to “edutainment”(educational & entertainment) content and even ride on an amusement park ride with a similar theme.
Disney could also be seen as the brand ambassador of “synergy”, as they do not just sell merchandise of their own company, but also join hands with other international conglomerates to boost the sales. Since 1996, McDonald’s had been one of the strategic partners of Walt Disney Company’s. And that “McDisneyisation” lasted for ten long, profitable years.The whole idea behind “hybrid market”, “synergy”, etc is to sell multiple products in one go, on an international front. For example, there are at least a few people, in every part of the world who would wear a T- shirt with the logo of a TV series or movie that was watched recently (and liked); collect miniature toys or stationeries of characters that one likes from a particular show or movie; play the video game within which one can control the characters they like and so on. This kind of marketing has minimum possibilities to fail, especially when the brand- crazy and undoubting tweens and children are the company’s demographic.
Hannah Montana, a Disney sitcom is one of the most credible examples that represent “Disneyisation” within the last decade. Since the launch of the series, the “Hannah Montana” merchandises (pencils, writing pads, folders, back packs, and so on) have been available on most stationary stores across the world, Hannah Montana clothes and accessories available almost everywhere, and so on. Disney even has a website devoted just to her and her series. The TV series Hannah Montana had a global audience of 200 million in 2008; ergo, if Hannah’s audience were a country, they would be the fifth largest population in the world and all of it’s citizens would be tweens.
“Disneyisation” is much different than the methods of globalisation stylised by other media conglomerates. It is a systems cape that encourages variety and differentiation. It can be associated more with “glocalisation” than globalisation. Disney with its theme parks and movies create a certain kind of knowledge about other cultures. And it is not just the kids, people of all ages and cultures are pulled towards the gravitation of Disney and its magic. As described by Mr. Walt Disney himself, “Here age relives fond memories of the past.. and here youth may savour the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to the world.” (opening ceremony of the first Disneyland. However, today Disney is very much market and sales oriented and the whole world is treated like customers. It’s a small small world after all…