In Sarah Banet-Weisser’s “The Nickelodeon Brand: Buying and Selling the Audience” she discusses how Nickelodeon unites and empowers kids, specifically with a “Us versus Them” attitude, us being the children and them being their parents. However, this is not the approach that Disney Channel seems to have taken. Being one of their main rivals in the world of children’s television, Disney Channel takes an almost opposite stance that highlights the inclusion of the entire family, expressing yourself, believing in yourself, and following your dreams. While Nickelodeon’s message is positive in a fun way, Disney channel’s seems to be more positive in an innocent and wholesome way.
During early hours of the day Disney Channel airs shows for young boys and girls who are not old enough to go to school, so typically ages 2-6. But by the time kids who are in school get home they begin targeting a little bit of an “older” demographic. Nonetheless, the “older” demographic is still children, anywhere from roughly ages 6-14. In Banet-Weisser’s piece she discusses how large conglomerates like Disney brand ideas and not actual products which results in the following statement, “This marketing trend has been a major impetus for the development of brand culture, where the brand matters more than the product, and corporations sell an experience or lifestyle rather than a thing” (71). This statement demonstrates how Disney Channel actually does tend to commodify the experience of a happy family and that any kid, even an ordinary one, can achieve their dreams if they believe in themselves instead of specific products and material items. They strive to make this meaning about family and dreams associated with their channel because although their main viewers are predominantly middle class, countless different types of children from 163 different territories/countries throughout the world watch Disney Channel. Fulfilling your goals is a positive message that any member of a family, that is any age, and from any part of the world can relate to and support. Furthermore, Disney as a company has always been focused on families as a whole. For example, Disney Parks talk about “where dreams come true” and “fun for the whole family.” It only makes sense that they would have a branding strategy that focuses on those ideas.
Despite its content change over recent years, Disney Channel has always been consistent in their message. While they originally appealed towards pre-teens and their families with content they could relate to, the demographic that is now being targeted is children of any gender, class, or race (and their families). With shows in the past like That’s So Raven, Hannah Montana, and Lizzie McGuire, among others, that appealed to pre-teens in many ways. Raven, an African American girl with a full figure dealt with issues of body image and racism, Hannah Montana focused on the importance of friendship and staying true to yourself, and Lizzie McGuire taught viewers how to deal with coming of age, bullies, and a family who doesn’t completely understand you. All shows obviously taught about how to deal with love interests as well. And while the shows on Disney Channel are different now, they still have similar lessons. Shows that air on Disney Channel today are Jessie, Dog with a Blog, and Girl Meets World, to name a few. While they may not have as significant of a message as those iconic shows of the past, they still aim to promote positive values and teach their audiences valuable lessons about the importance of family, friendship, and achieving your goals. That truly seems to be Disney Channel’s underlying meaning in all of their shows. In addition to changes in their show, they also have made changes to their logo, as seen below. They refreshed their brand and changed it to something new, while still including the extremely popular Mickey ears for younger audiences and no Mickey ears for their “older” audience. Recently, Disney announced that for the month of December they are bringing the old episodes of Hannah Montana back. This was a show (and ultimately a brand based on all the products made from the franchise) that as I mentioned above had quality values and was very popular. Not only have today’s children never seen Hannah Montana so they will be sure to tune in, teenagers and those who used to watch Hannah Montana back in the 2000’s are likely to watch as well, allowing the possibility to boost Disney Channel’s ratings.
It is no secret that Disney is an overwhelmingly powerful brand. From their wildly popular television channel to their successful theme parks, to their countless stores placed all over the nation with different items, clothing, and toys, Disney is a brand that much of our nation has bought into. Even though Disney Channel itself might brand more of an experience than products, they continues other types of branding through social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, as well as their own personal website that allows visitors to watch live TV by entering their provider and sign in information, play games based on the current shows, and watch different clips online.
Banet-Weiser, S. (2007). The Nickelodeon brand: Buying and selling the audience.
Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship.
Disney ABC Television Group (n.d.). Disney Channels World Wide. Retrieved November 30th, 2016 from http://www.disneyabcpress.com/disneyabctv/about-us/disney-channels/