Disney marketing nutrition to children
Define the problem
Dramatic increases in childhood obesity caused the company to consider the nutritional value of its own food products. Disney conducted a corporate-level audit of the food and beverage offeringswithin all of its divisions. Managers at Disney Consumer Products (DCP), the division responsible for product development and marketing of Disney-branded merchandise, including more than 2,100 packaged food and beverage products, saw the controversy as an opportunity to reconsider its entire range of food products. In 2004, DCP leadership embarked on a mission to improve the nutritional value of its licensed food products and by June 2006, DCP introduced its first offerings: fresh fruits marketed by a new licensor, Imagination Farms. Though fruit was naturally nutritious, DCP management knew that it would take some time to bring all of its products into compliance with its newly developed nutritional requirements and set a target of 2008.
DCP managers realized the company would need to establish credibility with the U.S. government, parents and nutritionists—a significant challenge given the company’s existing licensing deals with candy and treat manufacturers and its long-standing role as a toy supplier to McDonald’s, itself under constant attack as a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic. Harry Dolman, executive vice president of DCP’s food, health and beauty group, acknowledged that nobody expected DCP to solve the problem of childhood obesity single-handedly, but could Disney providleadership for the rest of the food industry and use its brand strength to reach children?
DCP’s Licensing and Distribution Models
After enjoying decades of 25% annual growth, in 1998 and 1999, DCP experienced 10-15% declines in sales in the U.S. and Japanese markets. Management attributed this drop to increasing royalty rates, and an over-reliance on character licensing from new films. “As a big brand, we’re accustomed...