This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Running head: Marketing A Media Empire
Disney: Marketing A Media Empire Sergio Castañeda Communication 301 University Of Illinois at Chicago Spring 2009
Marketing A Media Empire Abstract Focusing on the Disney Company as a major media conglomerate, this research project
had the purpose of seeking out and understanding how Disney advertises their media products. A semiotic analysis was carried out in order to examine the sort of themes and messages found within trailers for Disney movies. The theoretical basis was grounded on previously established theories about advertising; including visual metaphors and product placement. The research was carried out using YouTube.com as the source for the trailers. Five trailers were observed and analyzed. The predominant themes across these trailers were the use of intertextuality and product placement, the continual branding of Disney beyond being a movie studio and more of a provider of an experience, and the use of metaphors to categorize the movies as something more than movies. Ultimately, this research serves as a starting point for continuing to foster studies on Disney and the sorts of messages they present, this is important considering Disney’s size and scope in the media marketplace and popular culture.
Introduction and Theoretical Basis The purpose of this research is to examine the sort of themes and recurring messages that are found in the advertising efforts of the Walt Disney Company. Disney’s scope and size in the media market place is undeniable. As a media conglomerate, Disney’s subsidiaries can be found in almost all media outlets imaginable. All their franchises and capabilities for media production mean that Disney’s reach into households is possible in many ways. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it definitely merits examination as their advertising efforts are more than likely to be targeted towards the youth and family markets, who tend to be very influential consumers
Marketing A Media Empire (Grossberg, Wartella, Whitney & Wise, 2006). As the second largest media conglomerate in the world, the Disney Company sees annual profits of more than 37 billion dollars a year (“Annual Report”, 2008). Closely examining the advertising efforts of the Disney Company is an important topic for communication research. The goals of this research will be to identify the symbols and ideas embedded into the texts of Disney movie trailers through a semiotic analysis. Doing so will
hopefully yield a better understanding of the themes that people are exposed to when they watch Disney’s advertisements and perhaps explain how Disney has achieved its status as a media conglomerate. Additionally the research will seek to examine if the recurring themes presented in the advertisements migrated from the products they are advertising and how those occurrences are presented. Therefore the main research question for this project will be: RQ: What are the recurring themes and symbols found within Disney movie trailers? This will be followed by an interpretation of how these images and symbols can affect children, families and consumers. This study will base its theoretical background upon broader theory about advertisements; this runs the gamut from interpretations of advertisements, to studies about product placement and visual metaphors. Visual metaphors have been a popular area of research for communication scholars. Se-Hoon Jeong’s (2008) work in this area has found that visual metaphors in advertising tend to be more effective in selling products. This will be an important concept to consider in conducting this research as many advertisements today tend to rely in not simply selling a product, but rather a lifestyle or an idea. Another point to consider is the fact that as a media conglomerate Disney engages in synergy to advertise its products. This occurs in
Marketing A Media Empire many forms, one of which is product placement. Successful product placement is attributed to the theory of classical conditioning (Pompper & Choo, 2008). Given the many products that Disney might be trying to advertise at any given time it would be a worth-while query to see if product placement is a common occurrence in their advertisements and how classical conditioning may apply in those cases. In our current information age it seems as if all aspects of our society are saturated with media. This continuing and ever-increasing expansion means that the media industries continue to seek out ways to integrate themselves into our lives, in some cases reaching the point of saturation. The key point to remember about the media industries is that they are businesses that are established with the intent of generating profit. It is hoped that this research will add to the
study of communication by examining the content found in Disney advertising, an area of media studies that was found to be surprisingly lacking. Doing so will hopefully expand our understanding of media conglomerates and the messages they present for people. This research aims to increase understanding and awareness of the media that people consume.
Literature Review Library research for this project revealed that there is not a great deal of previous studies on the semiotics of Disney advertisements or even Disney in general. This was somewhat surprising considering that a company that has produced so many media products would be a prime candidate for communication research. As a result of this lack of scholarly research on Disney, the theoretical background for this project had to be expanded to the broader category of advertising in general. This proved to be a more substantial source of theoretical research to
Marketing A Media Empire evaluate. In this literature review there will be a brief discussion of scholarly material that has examined Disney, but for the most part the focus and the theoretical background for the project rely on other advertising research and theories. The documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly (Sun & Picker, 2001) provides a great starting point for a discussion of scholarly study on Disney films. It framed the Disney phenomenon as being a central part of American culture; Disney’s movies and other media are
products have been consumed by many people. This is the case internationally as well. They then went on to categorize three main themes that are found in Disney movies: gender representations, representations of others (namely minority ethnic groups), and the commercialization of children’s products. In all of these aspects it is shown that Disney’s main focus is on presenting media products that are designed to appeal to people and create revenue, with very little regard for ethical implications that the intrinsic messages are presenting. In fact they make an excellent point when they mention the fact that the writers of these movies are results of our social trends themselves, thus certain inherent ideas, such as objectifying and sexualizing women and fostering racial stereotypes show up in their writing. The documentary claims that these trends have existed in Disney’s movies from the start and continue to be present in their movies today. This documentary provided a good starting point to guide the focus of this research. The themes they discussed are valid and applicable, but the focus of the research will be on identifying if and how those messages migrate from the movies and manifest themselves in Disney advertising. Additionally, the commentary on the commercialization of children’s culture is also directly related to Disney’s advertising, as they use it as a way of creating and ensuring an audience. This documentary served as a good starting point to guide this research. It showed
Marketing A Media Empire important viewpoints that media scholars find when analyzing Disney. The categorization of the overarching themes in Disney movies is certainly something that is a worthwhile concept for further research and something that had not been a consideration for this project before. Although scholarly research has not specifically focused on the semiotics of Disney advertising, previously-established theories and research about advertising in general provided the necessary theoretical background necessary to guide this project. Advertising has, for the most part, shifted its focus from simply selling a product and its features to pushing, branding and idealizing a certain lifestyle or notion. The use of this practice has been identified by previous research and now it is more commonly known by many communication scholars as visual metaphors. Visual metaphors are an important consideration for studying Disney advertising as many of their ads tend to involve fantasy or fairy-tale stories, settings and characters. Research in this area has a number of connections to Disney advertisements as well. A research study by Se-Hoon Jeong (2008) provides a clear understanding of how visual metaphors operate in the advertising culture. Jeong defines visual metaphors as a way of linking two concepts analytically. Usually a positive connotation exists with one of the objects and this connotation is transferred to the other one. The hypotheses for Jeong’s study hinged on whether the advertisements containing visual metaphors were more effective as opposed to advertisements that literally advertised the product they were selling (in other words by using simple, clear and straightforward language to describe it). Their method involved participants
observing three different advertisements, which had varying use of visual metaphors. Their main findings were: “…that advertisements with visual metaphors may be more persuasive compared to advertisements with literal (non-metaphorical) images” (pp. 68). They tend to have a greater
Marketing A Media Empire cognitive influence and are thus perceived as more trustworthy, reliable and are easier to remember. This research provided valuable insight into the concept of visual metaphors. Our study will take their findings on visual metaphors further and apply them to identifying how they are present in Disney advertising. This study will not specifically seek out advertisements that contain visual metaphors; however, understanding their effects and how they are represented is important for further discussion and application of the use of visual metaphors. A point of contention with Jeong’s study is the fact that their participants were Korean university students. Thus their findings may or may not be applicable to people in the United States. Other studies exist which specifically address this topic on a multi-cultural level. Daechun An (2007), also studied visual metaphors, but with an emphasis on their applications and effects on different cultures. She examined how multinational corporations customize their international ads to be more applicable to the local cultures. These companies have globalized their reach to foreign audiences; the use of new media allows them to reach overseas audiences
instantly. They have also glocalized their reach in that when they do reach foreign audiences they tailor their content to be representative of their culture and customs. An’s goal for the research was to see how “…it can inform us of the visual discrepancies between Oriental and Occidental markets and reveal diverse means of visual manipulations in web advertising” (pp. 305). International cultures were also categorized into two broad categories: High-context cultures, which include countries such as Korea, Japan and China, and low-context cultures which include Germany, The United States and the United Kingdom. High-context cultures tend to rely more on non-verbal messages and communicative practices, whereas low-context cultures rely more on verbal messages. The hypotheses focused on examining how high and low context cultures
Marketing A Media Empire
perceive messages, they had a special emphasis on examining how ads in websites used celebrity endorsements, use of photographs and illustrations, and whether the product was specifically shown in the advertisement. Following the same research concept as An, a research study by Lin Ma (2008), also examined intercultural interpretations of visual metaphors. However Ma’s study focused solely on Chinese students (a high-context culture) and their interpretations of photographic Nike advertisements. The aim of Ma’s study was to compare the interpretations of Chinese students and to see if there was any similarity to their interpretations and those of Americans, (the ads in this study were originally intended for American audiences). The method was to show participants three Nike ads, then ask them questions about broad interpretations that could be derived from those ads. Although some of them struggled with cultural interpretations, they “… decipher cultural values according to their readings of the meanings conveyed in the ad metaphors; and the more creative/innovative the metaphors are…the more acceptive they were of the product/brand the ad promotes and the values it convey [sic]” (pp. 17). This is an important finding given the previous discussion of brands’ globalization of the marketplace. According to this study, despite the different cultural interpretations metaphors will most likely yield a positive consumer response. The results of both studies were similar to Jeong’s study. Visual metaphors are shown to people from a high-context culture, who remembered the ad more easily. According to them visual metaphors were not as common in advertisements for people from low-context cultures. However their findings are still relevant for this research in that they are likely to be relatable to Disney’s advertisements, and will most likely contribute to this study’s goal of identifying the symbols that are found therein. Although An’s study found that the use of visual advertisements
Marketing A Media Empire for people from low-context cultures was not as effective as previous studies, it should be remembered that it focused on website advertisements, whereas this study will focus on video, television and movie advertisements, a medium none of these studies addressed. Taking the study of visual metaphors a step further, Luuk Lagerwerf and Anoe Meijers
(2008), conducted a research project in which they distinguished visual metaphors as being open or close ended. Their theory was that participants would appreciate more the close-ended metaphors, because they allowed them to make their own connections from a metaphor to the item being advertised. Their study had participants analyze print-advertisements that they manipulated and then provide their interpretations of them. In addition, they also showed images that were considered straightforward and open (no visual metaphors). Surprisingly their findings were that people appreciated more the straightforward advertisements. They found them to be clearer, more likeable and appealing. These findings are in contrast to what the previous studies had discovered. Nonetheless, this study served to further categorize the way in which visual metaphors can occur in the advertising landscape. The fact that open or closed interpretations are possible was something that had not been considered before. Given the limited amount of time that Disney advertisements have to make an impact for consumers, the use of metaphors can affect the choices they make in how they present the ads. This is something that will be further explored as the symbols therein are identified and addressed. Another major trend in television and movies is the practice of product placement. This practice has been thoroughly researched by many communication scholars. Of special interest was an article by Donnalyn Pompper and Yih-Farn Choo (2008). Who sought to examine product placement from the marketers’ perspective. Their theoretical background was based on the concept of classical conditioning, which was defined as: “…wherein one’s attitude toward a
Marketing A Media Empire
well-liked stimulus is transferred to an affectively neutral stimulus when the stimuli are joined” (pp. 50). Their research questions were based on examining the decisions, components and even the marketers’ perception of product placement in media products. Their findings were that most marketers expect product placement to continue to exist as a marketing tool in the media. As a major media conglomerate Disney uses product placement in much of their marketing. Pompper and Choo’s article contributed with another theoretical viewpoint for this project, their findings show that marketers value product placement, meaning that the phenomenon is not going away. Given the concept of classical conditioning it will be interesting to see if and how Disney uses it in commercials and how that use will be applicable to the semiotic analysis of those advertisements. Another study of advertising for younger audiences by Agnes Nairn and Cordelia Fine (2008), had a similar theoretical background, but they examined how advertisements affected young children psychologically and emotionally. According to them this is a problematic practice because children are growing up being exposed to more advertisements than ever before. The attitudes and cognitions they develop at a young age will go on to affect them in the future. They also elicited the concept of classical conditioning, but they instead labeled it as a “positive stimulus”, which is transferred from a media product to an item being advertised. Pompper and Choo’s study analyzed the motivations for product placements and advertisements, they examined this phenomenon at its root cause; the marketers who produce them. Nairn and Fine’s study was a discussion of the results and implications of those decisions, with special emphasis on how younger audiences are affected by them. Both of these articles relate to my research by showing that the advertising industry is callous in producing advertisements that will foster a response, with very little regard to ethics, consumers or the overall media landscape.
Marketing A Media Empire As all of these projects have shown research of the advertising landscape in media and communication studies are important for both consumers and the media industries. They have
financial and cultural implications that are important for short and long term consideration. The research presented in this literature review served as guiding points for both modeling this study and the theoretical background that will be considered for this research. The results of the previous studies brought up important viewpoints for this research that had not been considered before. Throughout this research these theories will be applicable and useful in understanding the symbols and patterns that will be discovered and analyzed in Disney’s advertisements. Doing so it will also help cement our study with solid research concepts and expand on the study of advertising research, in terms of semiotic analysis as well as continuing the scholarly study of Disney products.
Methods The lack of previous scholarly research on semiotics of Disney advertisements meant that the methodology for this research project had to be devised from the ground up. Similarly to the theoretical background, the methodology of this project will be based on previously established advertising research. For this study, a semiotic analysis was chosen as the way of conducting research. Although there are many possible approaches to analyzing Disney texts, a semiotic analysis was considered the best way to proceed with this project as it centers its focus on interpretation of the messages being presented. Other studies on the topic, such as the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly (2001), have focused on examining the messages and overarching themes found within Disney movies. Similarly this study will also focus on
Marketing A Media Empire examining messages, but with an emphasis on exploring the symbols within Disney advertisements, which of course are linked to the films. The desired result being that by
analyzing the symbols of those images an objective and accurate interpretation of their possible interpretations will be developed. The population area of interest that will be examined for this project was movie trailers for films that are aimed towards a family audience. In other words, the population area of interest is the same as Disney’s target audience for their movies. As previously stated, these populations tend to be influential in the consumer market (Grossberg et al), thus creating a need to study what makes their advertising so appealing. Trailers tend to be distributed in many ways; in movie theatres, through the Internet and even on television, usually many months before a movie is released. Trailers are usually the first way that people learn of upcoming films, thus many trailers carry high expectations by viewers and movie studios. The justification for the use of these samples is that, traditionally Disney’s best known films are animated movies. In animated movies everything that is shown is deliberately created. Every single thing that is seen on screen was designed and placed there on purpose. In other words they are the direct creations of Disney. The semiotic analysis was done by using YouTube as the source of the texts that were analyzed. A search using the terms “Disney movie trailer” was conducted. It was expected that these trailers would be around two minutes in length. The requirements for the trailer to be analyzed in this study were: 1. It had to be an official Disney-produced trailer. 2. This study limited its analysis to trailers for animated movies only. 3. The length of the trailer was to be at least ninety seconds.
Marketing A Media Empire Observations and notes for these trailers were recorded on paper (see Appendix), with special emphasis on noting the messages that the visuals, audio and other sources within these trailers presented. Additionally the URL of where these trailers were found and the number of observations that were done were recorded. This methodology had the purpose of thoroughly analyzing and examining the signifier and signified symbols found in Disney movie trailers. It was designed to be meticulous in its
scope, but at the same time very mindful of small and minute details. By using this methodology it was hoped that a better understanding of the messages found within Disney advertisements and their impact would be achieved.
Findings After looking through a number of trailers and clips, five trailers were selected for observation and inclusion for this project. They were trailers for Bolt (2008), Aladdin (1992), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and Pinocchio (1940). These movies are representative of the history of the Disney Studios and range in release dates from 1940 to 2008. (Internet Movie Database, 2009). YouTube.com turned out to be an excellent source for locating these texts. The trailers were easily available. Most had some sort of reference that showed when the trailer and movie came out. Additionally, YouTube’s unique interface not only allows examination and analysis of media texts, but it also has other features that would make it an interesting source for media and communication scholars. The ability for users to post comments in the same page where a video is found can function as a sort of focus group, where opinions, thoughts and notions are recorded. As it will be discussed later, these comments had
Marketing A Media Empire some interesting points to make in relation to the videos that were observed. The findings and
notes that were taken from the trailers, focused both on the messages that these trailers presented, in addition to seeing what techniques the Disney Company uses, given its unique status as a media conglomerate and a well-established entertainment company. In all five trailers, the use of intertextuality, that is texts borrowing from other texts, (Grossberg et al, 2006, p. 163) was the predominant message that was used. This occurrence happened with both visual and auditory signs. Visual uses of intertextuality included shots and scenes from previous Disney movies; these were complemented with the auditory messages from the narration which reminded viewers about how these movies had previously taken them on “incredible adventures” and “unforgettable journeys”. This was underscored with music and audio from the other movies. The trailer for Aladdin (1992) starts with a music selection from The Little Mermaid (1989); this is followed by some shots and discussion from that movie, before the trailer actually focuses on Aladdin. All of the trailers borrowed something from other Disney movies. It is likely that this created a sense of familiarity and recognition given that these movies were part of the Disney repertoire, as indicated by the narration the journeys and adventures that they had taken before, were surely going to happen again with the new movie being advertised. Thus creating an advertising appeal using these messages Another significant occurrence in the Disney movie trailers was the continual branding for both the movie itself as well as for the Walt Disney Studios; this message was continually presented by both visual and auditory cues. Visual cues relied, heavily, on things like the Walt Disney Pictures logo; this usually was the first shot that was shown in the trailers, with the exception of one. Although this logo has undergone some changes throughout the years, it still has the same font and basic concept; a large fairytale castle with a big and prominent logo. These
Marketing A Media Empire visuals were interplayed with auditory cues that supplemented and complemented the message that this was a Walt Disney Pictures movie. The most predominant auditory cue that was presented in all trailers was the narrator announcing that the movie was “from Walt Disney
Pictures”. This was the case in all five trailers. Naturally, the branding of the movie itself was an important thing for these trailers to present. Most of them presented the movie’s logo at least once throughout the trailers, in many instances in the last shot of the trailer. The movie branding was also interplayed with the audio in the trailers. Music also played an important part in these trailers. For all five observations there was a variation of background music and songs. For the most part these music cues tended to be from the movies’ soundtracks. Having seen all of these movies, I recognized the musical selections immediately. Four of the five movies whose trailers were observed (excluding Bolt), were wellknown Disney musicals. For three of those movies the narration specifically stated that they contained “(a number) of new songs”. The music also tended to correlate with what was going on with the visuals, in terms of action or romance. They usually ended the trailers on a rousing note. These were the predominant commonalities and findings that were found in all five trailers that were observed. Obviously they constitute a small portion of the many symbols, messages and notions that these trailers presented. Given the way that this research project is designed, analysis of the semiotics found within these trailers needs to be broader and focus more on commonalities and recurrences more so than the small details. This provided some interesting results that were applicable to the research question. Now our discussion will focus on examining how these findings are related to theories and previous research that were previously discussed.
Marketing A Media Empire
Discussion Harking back to the basic elements of semiotics as explained by Arthur Asa Berger (2000, pp. 37); the notions of signifiers and signifieds is appropriate to this study.The main focusing point for this research was to examine the way that signifiers worked within the trailers in order to create an appeal to the viewer (signified) and thus support Disney’s status as a media conglomerate. Overall the overarching messages that ran the gamut across all of the trailers were: 1. The use of intertextuality (as a type of product placement). 2. The branding and continual reminders of the Disney Company. 3. Metaphors within the trailers, labeling the movies as “adventures” and “journeys”. The main recurring theme and in the five trailers that were observed was the use of intertextuality, that is texts borrowing from other texts (Grossberg et al, 2006). Going back to the product placement study by Pompper and Choo (2008), it seems as though their conclusions do have a correlation to our findings. There is trend in the media to increase the amount of product placement. It could be argued that intertextuality and product placement are similar concepts, as they have similar motivations and intended results. As the signifiers in these trailers showed, using a positive stimulus (images or video clips from previous Disney movies) and linking them to a neutral stimulus (the new movie that is being advertised) a certain connection is formed between the two, thus creating a positive connotation in the viewer towards the new movie. As
Marketing A Media Empire shown from the observations of these trailers a number of signifiers, clips, songs, audio, narration referencing the other products are used to create this connection.
This occurrence was very clear in the trailer for Bolt. The first part of the trailer shows a character who is talking about another major Disney franchise; High School Musical. An array of signifiers is then presented, which assumedly will elicit connotations about a well-known Disney movie that is loved by many. He plays the role of the excited fan, by talking about the reasons that he loves the film, while at the same time singing songs and referring characters from the movie. This works for the viewer who is familiar with the High School Musical franchise to create a sense of familiarity and most likely foster a positive connotation. In accordance to Pompper and Choo’s theory, they will experience the advertisement for Bolt with an overall sense of positivity that has been created and carried over from the High School Musical references. It is likely that the advertisement will be more appealing and thus people might feel more compelled to go out and watch the new movie. This is one specific example of the way that these texts borrowed from other Disney texts. However all five trailers used this concept, with similar effects. This shows that the use of intertextuality as a predominant signifier is present in their advertising. What this means for Disney in terms of their status as a media conglomerate is that they can use their vast library of successful and well-known media texts as a tool for advertising their new products. This component of the way that Disney advertises is especially important considering how many films, characters and other media products they have produced in their many decades of media production. Based on Pompper and Choo’s (2008) findings this practice is successful and thus is increasingly being used more.
Marketing A Media Empire Beyond intertextuality and product placement, branding and corporate representations were a continual and ever present effort to market these movies as properties of the Disney Company. The first visual signifier that was seen in four of the trailers was the Walt Disney Pictures logo. Not surprisingly this occurred for the trailers for the movies that had been produced around the nineties. The only exception to this was Pinocchio, which was produced decades earlier, before Disney had become the media conglomerate it is today. Nonetheless all five trailers mentioned that the movie they were advertising was “produced” or “presented” by
Walt Disney Pictures. Another interesting observation related to branding was the allusion by the narration in two of the trailers (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast), that the film would have “new” or “delightful” “Disney” characters. This was an interesting mention, as it works as an interesting signifier for the audiences of these trailers. For parents and older people, they will most likely recognize this branding as a way of showing these characters as familiar and from a source that they know and trust, Disney. For children it will most likely serve to remind them of the type of movie that they are watching (a Disney movie) and create a sort of built-in knowledge of the brand and the products it creates. The reasoning is probably that if Disney has put their stamp of approval for these characters, then they are likely to be something that families can trust and will enjoy. The branding components within the trailers work together to symbolize to the viewer what kind of movie they are being introduced to and what they can expect from it. The constant use of the signifier “Disney” in both visual and audio uses is definitely consistent in all five trailers that were observed. The signified notion would be dependent on the viewer and their connotative ideal of what a Disney movie means to them. Going back to the points that were discussed in Mickey Mouse Monopoly (2001), Disney’s status as a company that families trust is
Marketing A Media Empire
an important underlying notion that guides the way that Disney will cater their advertisements to them. People trust Disney’s films as wholesome family entertainment, but as the filmmakers of this documentary presented, the messages that Disney’s films contain may not always be the same type of lessons that parents would teach their kids or indeed something that they would want them to learn. As previously discussed with the study by Nairn and Fine (2008), advertisement tends to have the sole focus of creating revenue. The considerations for ethics or responsibility for what is being advertised become a sort of afterthought for media conglomerates. Thus it would seem as though Disney is using the trust that families have for them as a way of reaching out to them and get the most out of them as consumers. Additionally, the use of the concept of Disney as a signifier is also applicable to the previously discussed findings of visual metaphors, by Se-Hoon Jeong (2008). The visual metaphors, in this instance, namely the Walt Disney Pictures Logo, works as a reminder for the viewer that the film is from a company that is assumed, they know and trust. By introducing the logo at the beginning of the trailer, it works by being the first signifier that people recognize and associate with the trailer they are about to experience. Along the same lines, the claims made by the trailers that the movies would take them to “a whole new world of adventure” (Aladdin), “a fantastic adventure” (The Little Mermaid), “an unforgettable movie event” (Beauty and the Beast), and presenting the notion that the film is being given to the viewer, (Pinocchio). These signifiers work as auditory metaphors. The notions that they give to the viewers are subjective. These notions combined with the signifiers used to brand these movies work well together. They help the viewer realize that the movies will be different from the usual fare, or so the trailers argue. Coupled with the visual metaphors that are presented it seems as though that message is clearly shown and has an effect on the viewer.
Marketing A Media Empire
As Lagerwerf and Meijers’ study (2008) discussed the use of open or close ended visual metaphors, for the most part it seems that these trailers were straightforward and open, with no visual metaphors. The use of metaphors was more evident in terms of branding the product as a Disney product, and by mentions of the narration in describing the movies as other, exciting, types of experiences. All of these visual and auditory signifiers work together to sell the movies. They supplement and complement each other and they are something that Disney uses in much of their advertising, since this sort of branding was present in the trailers that were observed. All of these signifiers worked well to sell these movies, after all that was their intended purpose when they were created. It was interesting to see how Disney acknowledges and uses their status as a media conglomerate to sell these movies. As shown by these trailers, the least they want to do in their marketing is to simply sell a movie. Instead, through the use of intertextuality and marketing metaphors, they are selling a number of notions that will create a much more positive impact on the viewer, thus making them more likely to go out and watch that movie. In the process creating the profit that Disney seeks to obtain, which in the end is the goal of any advertising.
Conclusion If the practice of communication research focuses on who said what to whom, on which channel and with what effect, then this research project has clearly addressed and examined that process by analyzing the semiotics found within trailers for Disney movies. It was possible to analyze and examine how these concepts were presented by focusing on the semiotics of Disney movie trailers. In that process it was also possible to also examine the variety of marketing
Marketing A Media Empire
techniques that Disney uses. Ultimately the purpose of examining the symbols within a facet of Disney advertising was achieved with a number of interesting results. There were a number of limitations and challenges in conducting this research. The main challenge came in terms of deciding in what exactly to focus on to research Disney advertising. They have an array of products, both media as well as other products, all of which are designed to support Disney as a business and as a conglomerate. For example a trailer is not simply designed to sell a movie; it should also be able to sell other related products and merchandise. But even beyond that, Disney has so many media properties, most if not all of which rely on advertising to be successful ventures. Advertising comes not only in the form of trailers; there are also commercials, synergy and promotional interviews. All of which are practices that have the same goal of selling a product. All of these are potential possibilities for research, which made it challenging to narrow down exactly to focus this research on. In the end trailers were chosen as the text for observation because movies were what really allowed the Disney Company to flourish and expand a few decades ago. Movies are the primary association that most people have when they think of Disney. Additionally, they are important venues for studios to market a movie. This research can certainly work as a starting point to expand on the study of semiotic analyses of Disney properties. Future research could focus on comparatively examining Disney advertising through time, to see if and how the messages that their trailers contain have evolved. Additionally it would be interesting to compare these trailers in relation to other family movie trailers. Disney no longer solely dominates the media landscape in terms of family or children’s films, so it would be a worthwhile to examine how other studios market those types of films and how that compares to the marketing that Disney does.
Marketing A Media Empire All of the semiotic messages that are embedded into the trailers for Disney movies are
arguably done intentionally. The apparent goal is to support the notion that Disney’s movies will be entertainment for the whole family, thus yielding Disney a large audience and consequently a large profit for their products. As the results of this research have shown there are certain trends and commonalties within the advertising that Disney does for their movies. It would seem that these commonalities were not accidental given their recurrence and so the need for examining and questioning them comes up. Advertising is not inherently a bad thing; advertising is what keeps businesses going, creates jobs and allows artistic and personal expressions. For movies, they allow people to be entertained and to have a common experience with other people. However when a big media company has access to so many potential viewers it is the duty and responsibility of communication scholars to examine these messages and present what they find with the hope that doing so will benefit society. It is hoped that this research will serve as good starting point for communication and media research and that the studies of Disney media products will continue to expand in the future.
Marketing A Media Empire
References An, D. (2007). Advertising visuals in global brands’ local websites: A six-country comparison. International Journal of Advertising, 26 (3), 302-332. Berger, A. A. (2000). Media and communication research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Bolt (2008). Retrieved April 6, 2009, from Internet Movie Database Web site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397892/ Disney (2008, January 15). Beauty and the beast - original release trailer (1991) [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRlzmyveDHE Disney (2008, December 14 ). Disney's aladdin (theatrical trailer) [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CnL5UJgsrM Disney (2008, December 15). (HQ) bolt - rhino(hamster) is high school musical 3's biggest fan (clip) extended version [Video file]. Video posted to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8cJg-mOWtc Disney (2008, March 19). The little mermaid original trailer 1989 [Video file]. Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXvABFfXwU0
Marketing A Media Empire Disney (2008, January 24). Pinocchio original 1940 trailer [Video file]. Video posted to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWKpQ9yLAT4 Grossberg, L., Wartella, E., Whitney, D. C., & Wise, J. M. (2006). Media Making (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Jeong, S. (2008). Visual metaphor in advertising: Is the persuasive effect attributable to visual
argumentation or metaphorical rhetoric? Journal of Marketing Communications, 14, 5973. Lagerwerf, L., & Meijers, A. (2008). Openness in metaphorical and straightforward advertisements. Journal of Advertising, 37, 19-30. Lin, M. (2008). Pictorial metaphor in advertising and consumer interpretation of its cultural meaning. China Media Research, 4 (3), 9-17. Nairn, A., Fine, C. (2008). Who’s messing with my mind? The implications of dual-process models for the ethics of advertising to children. International Journal of Advertising, 27 (3), 447-470 Pinocchio (1940). Retrieved April 6, 2009, from Internet Movie Database Web site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032910/ Pompper, D., & Choo, Y. (2008). Advertising in the age of TiVo: Targeting teens and young adults with film and television product placements. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 16, 49-69.
Marketing A Media Empire Sun, C. F. (Producer), & Picker, M. (Director). (2001). Mickey mouse monopoly. [Motion picture]. (Available from Media Education Foundation, 26 Center Street, Northampton, MA 01060) The Walt Disney Company. 2008 Annual Report. Retrieved from: http://corporate.disney.go.com/investors/annual_reports.html Appendix
Research Observations Sheet Observation # : Title and URL: Length (mm:ss) Date Accessed: Description/Notes of Visuals presented:
Description/Notes of Audio, Dialogue and Narration (if applicable):
Marketing A Media Empire
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.