Disney Testing More Star Wars and Marvel Advertising Deals

Disney is testing a few methods of transporting advertisers to a galaxy far, far away.

When visitors to the Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney District tour the area between November 21 and January 5, they will have the chance to test out a preview of “Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge,” the virtual-reality game that takes place on the planet of Batuu and uses Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 headset. As part of the promotion, Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, will run commercials across Disney-owned outlets that include ABC, ESPN, Hulu, Freeform, FX and NatGeo.

“We are bringing unique experiences that are just beyond regular run-of-schedule media,” says Marco Forte, senior vice president of advertising sales for Disney who supervises relationships with technology advertisers, in an interview. “We are thinking about opportunities where we can take clients’ technology and marry it with our intellectual property.”

As TV’s annual “upfront” sales season approaches, Disney is increasingly interested in giving advertisers access to some of the more unique elements in its portfolio. The agreement with Meta ties an advertiser to Star Wars and its parks, and Disney in June allowed Hyundai to feature Marvel characters including Loki, Scarlet Witch and Falcon in bespoke ads – the first time the company has given an advertiser access to the super-hero properties in such fashion.

TV networks are hoping that Madison Avenue will be past the troubling effects of the coronavirus pandemic and eager to spend, hopefully with an array of supply-chain issues that have affected the availability of new autos in the industry’s rear-view mirror. Disney and a host of rival media companies have indicated they intend to hold physical upfront presentations in New York venues, with options for some advertising executives to stream the proceedings if they want.

U.S. media companies use the upfront each year to sell the bulk of their commercial inventory for the next programming cycle. The most recent market, held earlier this year, put a spotlight on the new appeal of streaming video and how money once earmarked primarily for linear TV is moving to new broadband venues like Disney’s Hulu, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, among others.

Using its parks, as well as Marvel and Star Wars characters, could give Disney an edge over its competitors. “As our intellectual property continues to delight our fans, more and more of our clients are going to want to tap into that in unique ways,” says Forte.

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