With the holiday season (and black friday + cyber monday sales) just round the corner and Frozen 2’s theatrical launch 10 days away, Disney Plus couldn’t have chosen a better date to launch at.
Disney knew it had larger than life competitors - Netflix, HULU, Amazon Prime - and to compete in the streaming world, it needed the best launch possible. Ricky Strauss, president for content and marketing at Disney Plus, described their launch marketing as “a synergy campaign of a magnitude that is unprecedented in the history of the Walt Disney Company.”
And that’s what happened. Their launch was so successful, their system crashed. They had 10 million sign-ups by the second day and Disney now expects to have between 90 million paid subscribers by 2024.
To prep for the launch, they’d been aggressively cross-promoting Disney Plus not just on several digital platforms, such as social videos on Instagram, (with a combined follower base of over a billion users), but also ABC (their corporate sibling).
Their marketing efforts could be seen offline, too, with Walt Disney buses showing sneak-peak screenings of exclusive Disney show series onboard, pep rallies in their stores, retail employees wearing lanyards with QR codes to Disney Plus signup page, and so much more. Their marketing blitz left everyone incredulous, and the results were incredible.
This is what brands need to do in 2020 and beyond. Before launching any product, service, or your episodic video content, market aggressively. Leverage offline and online platforms both and try to create as much awareness as you can before the ultimate launch.
3. Know your audience
Josef Adalian rightly says, ‘Disney+ isn’t just a digital depository for the Disney library; it’s a temple at which the Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars faithful can gather and worship.’
Unlike Netflix or the upcoming HBO Max, Disney does not claim or want to be a one-stop television shop for viewers of all ages and interests.
It already has a USP - nostalgia.
Disney Plus has actually played to their advantage by limiting their audience to people who deeply care about Disney - they’ve managed to build a fiercely loyal and highly engaged user base that will stick with Disney till it’s last days. It also sets them apart from other streaming giants and helps them market aggressively to an already warm and welcoming audience.
For brands, this is a great lesson in marketing. Get really specific on who your target audience is and then target them with concentrated marketing efforts. A small band of people loyal to you and your brand will eventually bring in more sales, convert easier, and conduct better word of mouth marketing, than a lot of random people who know and care nothing about your brand.
4. Listen to your audience and test every little thing
“Your analytics will tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t for that account specifically so you can optimize your presence as you go along!” - Lilach Bullock
Disney is a keen learner - they haven't put all this time and billions into a project that they’ll let fail. They’re looking at 60 to 90 millions sign-ups by 2024 and they’re willing to do everything that will help them get there - that means testing every little (or big) step they take to optimize customer experience, their service, and ultimately increase signups.
One small example is this Disney Plus user complaining about a lack of a ‘Continue Watching’ feature.