The 'Incredible' motivation behind Disney World's new marketing campaign

February 2, 2018, 1:07 PM · Sure, the calendar says "February," but the Walt Disney World kicked off its summer promotional campaign today. This year will be an "Incredible Summer" at the resort, according to Disney World's latest branding effort.

Wait a minute. Isn't this the summer that Toy Story Land opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios? Why would Disney choose to brand its summer around a different Pixar franchise, instead of the one anchoring the biggest new attraction at Walt Disney World this year?

Ask that, young marketing Padawan, and you will learn something about Disney and how it promotes its theme parks differently than just about everyone else in this industry. Remember that Disney's biggest — and ultimately, only — product is "Disney" itself. The theme parks provide just more one component driving the company's lifestyle brand.

The "Incredible Summer" branding would work better at the Disneyland Resort in California, which is retheming its former Paradise Pier as Pixar Pier, with an new Incredibles theme for the former California Screamin' coaster as the anchor of that transformation. But Disney is using the branding in Florida, which isn't getting any new Incredibles-themed attraction beyond expanded Tomorrowland meet-and-greets and a Rocket Tower Stage dance party.

But theme park branding initiatives aren't just about promoting theme parks at Disney. They're about promoting whatever the "Big Thing" that Disney has to offer at the moment. And this summer, that Big Thing is the premiere of Incredibles 2 in theaters. That's right. Walt Disney World's summer promotion isn't about promoting Disney World. It's about promoting a Disney movie.

Which makes sense from a timing standpoint. Most people who are investing big bucks in a summer vacation at Disney World this year started planning — and booking — that months ago. A branding campaign now comes too late to influence those decisions. So this summer branding campaign isn't about convincing people to come to Disney World, it's all about reminding the people who are there to go see Incredibles 2, as well.

And beyond that, it's about solidifying visitors' mental connection between the Walt Disney World Resort and everything else that the company has to offer. That way, people can feel like they are experiencing Incredibles 2 at Disney World, even if the company hasn't built a new attraction there themed to that. It's the marketing equivalent of eating your cake and while still having it, too.

Which, when you stop to think about it, really is pretty... well, incredible. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

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Replies (7)

February 2, 2018 at 1:37 PM · It wouldn't be the first time. Heck, you could argue that the first four years of Disneyland served as a marketing campaign for Sleeping Beauty.
February 3, 2018 at 10:20 AM · I can't think of any Toy Story marketing puns that would have the same "snap" as Incredible Summer.
February 3, 2018 at 3:29 PM · It is like Hollywood studios having the Star Wars stormtroopers and Star Wars meet and greets . Guests felt like they were on the Star Wars Park before they have built the land .
February 3, 2018 at 6:24 PM · It's still weak, in my opinion. People going to WDW don't need a reminder to see Incredibles 2 in theaters. A major marketing program for the theme parks should be about the theme parks. Even if it's too late to entice early planners, it should reinforce the brand of the theme parks for future visitors. To me it weakens the brand of the theme parks, because people will go expecting something related to the Incredibles. Not good...
February 5, 2018 at 2:22 AM · Disfan-Welcome to the real world. This is literally Disney's forte. Get a clue.
February 5, 2018 at 10:03 AM · The Incredibles were neglected for so long that I wonder if people even remember the movie. This will certainly help. While Disney is slow walking Marvel into the theme parks, The Incredibles were already available to be added as a Superhero franchise attraction. Better late than never, but still late. The Incredibles would be a great overlay for any Tomorrowland or Epcot Future World pavilion attraction.
February 5, 2018 at 11:08 AM · Barry, do you deny that visitors going to WDW will be disappointed or confused that there are no Incredibles attractions? If you do, you're in de Nile.

Disney is advertising a "SUPER" dance party with the Incredibles at Magic Kingdom (yes, super is in all caps with quotation marks, I guess that makes it even more super), and the opportunity to see Incredibles 2 at AMC Disney Springs. That's it. The other offerings have nothing to do with the Incredibles. I very much have a clue that synergy is Disney's forte, I just feel that they're stretching it here.

Doesn't sound too 'Incredible', especially if it's supposed to cover the whole resort. Oh wait, it does, because it covers Disney Springs.

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