An article in The Boston Globe caught my eye yesterday:
Walt Disney Co. is adding a fresh perk for top-spending members of its D23 fan club: a tour of Walt’s office, including the ashtrays where he’d stub out his Chesterfields. (Source: Boston Globe)
My first reaction was: ‘ashtrays? didn’t old Walt die of lung cancer?’ (Answer: yes.)
My second thought was that, while, if I were at Disneyland and you didn’t have to stand in line for an hour to see it, I wouldn’t mind seeing old Walt’s office. It would have been interesting to see where the cranky old coot genius came up with his ideas.
Third thought: what’s the D23 fan club.
After all, it looks like you have to be a member of that illustrious group – named for the year in which old Walt left Kansas and headed to California – in order to get in to ogle old Walt’s sanctum sanctorum.
Fast forward to 2009 – long after old Walt had figured out that this wasn’t Kansas anymore, long after old Walt followed Bambi’s mother into the great beyond – and CEO Robert Iger figured out that he was leaving money in the pockets of its most avid fans. And so Disney came up with the concept of D23, “for the fan in all of us.”
Man, oh man – or is it mouse, oh mouse – these folks know how to market.
Sure, it helps to have iconic product to market, and a product set that keeps adding icons. Snow White fans grew up and bought Cinderella watches for their daughters. Those daughters had little girls who wanted to be the Littlest Mermaid. Who, in turn, begot Elsa-crazed daughters. Let it go? NEVER! The idea pipeline will never be frozen.
The D23 folks are past masters at what today is called “engagement.”
On D23, you can listen to Leonard Maltin “discuss the genius behind the Silly Symphonies cartoons. And while you’re at it, load up on a set of Silly Symphony cocoa jars. (They’re stackable!)
You can find a recipe for brandy snaps that look like cannoli.
You can read about the Christmas card old Walt sent his mother in those early years (D24, D25) when he didn’t have much money.
But you, Disney fans, you do have money. Money to spend on all things Disney, including fan events held in your very own home town (at least, in the near future, if you live in Portland or Salt Lake City). And every two years, you can attend the D23 Expo and drill down on the origins of the Three Caballeros. Figure out the difference between Robert Sherman and Richard Sherman, the brothers who wrote the music for Mary Poppins. Meet the original Mouseketeers – now in their late sixties to mid-seventies. (Sixty years too late for me to meet Cubby O’Brien.) And buy all sorts of Disney-related stuff, that’ll take you – and your wallet – well beyond the Davey Crocket cap and rifle your brother had in the 1950’s.
Disney does manage to have a powerful hold on those of us who grew up with it. And who in the world hasn’t?
Just the other day,my sister and her husband and I were having a conversation about Pinocchio. (I always will have a soft spot in my heart for Jiminy Cricket singing When You Wish Upon a Star.)
Anyway, those D23’s will now have the chance to tour old Walt’s office.
They mentioned the ashtrays. What about the cash registers?