#BrandSaga Disney Channel: A tale of stories and magic

Sneha Yadav
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Disney advertising journey

On the occasion of Children’s Day, you and I get to relive the Disney days while we walk down the memory lane with Disney advertising journey.

When someone says that ‘bachpan ke din’ are the best days of our lives, you have no option but to vouch for it. Those were the days- when playing ‘chuppan chupayi’ and ‘Fire in the Mountains’ topped the priority list and serious work took a backseat, much because Disney Channel broadcasted our favorite Rob and his Art Attack. Disney advertising journey played an equally important role in keeping us hooked.

Disney advertising journey

When that little girl in the latest communication from Disney India used words like  ‘Shadyantra’ and ‘Tum Bass Dekhti Jao Maa’, I wasn’t surprised but was mesmerized by her skills. The channel struck the right chord there and then with the much-needed insight to introduce its Kids Channel Pack. It delivered the message to parents that kids should be exposed to kids' content and not the saas-bahu saga- because children learn what they see.

From Good  Morning, Mickey to my all-time favorite Duck Tales to Karishma ka Karishma to Hannah Montana to Doraemon! To re-create those moments, this week’s Brand Saga is a Children’s Day special and pays ode to the channel's advertising journey which keeps on entertaining us with its old nostalgia.

When India Welcomed Disney...

It was only ten years after being available on cable providers in all 50 U.S states by September 1983, that the Walt Disney Company and Modi Enterprises joined hands to form Walt Disney India in August 1993 with a licensing agreement as a joint venture. Later, to launch the Disney Channel in India, Disney filed with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to create a wholly-owned subsidiary company in October 2001.

After ending the joint venture agreement in August 2003, the Walt Disney Company (India) Private Limited (WDCI) started operations is headquartered in Mumbai in July 2004.  Finally, on December 17, Walt Disney Television International India officially launched the Disney Channel and Toon Disney channel with three language feeds (English, Tamil, and Telugu) distributed by the Star Group.

For the unknown: Before Disney channel, India was rolled out officially, Sony TV broadcasted a Disney-branded programming block known as "Disney Hour" and "Disney Mornings".

Also Read: Brand Saga: Of making India Incredible

Mega Promotions - Code Tod

In the initial days, Disney’s programming line up consisted of shows imported from the US such as Lizzie McGuireThat's So RavenThe Suite Life of Zack & CodyHannah Montana, and Wizards of Waverly Place. Disney advertising journey was now officially in action.

A year later, the focus was shifted to meet local demands and the channel unveiled its first mega-promotion campaign titled 'Code-Tod' in the country to drive a loyal viewer base. It focused on selling Disney Channel’s 5.30 PM slot where the company distributed 2.2 million red-tinted paper goggles to school going children along with Dabur Real juice packs.

The kids were asked to wear the goggles and decipher codes in the new cartoon serial Kim Possible and win prizes, ranging from gaming mobile phones to a laptop. According to rediff.com, the company claimed to have received more than 150,000 responses in the first five days of the promotion itself.

In 2006, the channel launched its first locally produced series called Vicky Aur Vetaal and went on to produce more local content like Dhoom Machao Dhoom, Ishaan,  Agadam Bagdam Tigdam. It was now the time for the Walt Disney network to identify the potential of Hindi as a primary language in India and thereby went onto launch - Toon Disney, an animation-only channel that telecasts newer programming as well as the classic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck shows, and Disney Channel, which offered a mixed bag of playschool educational blocks, movies, live-action and animation.

Rediff.com quoted the then Managing Director, Rajat Jain, The Walt Disney Company (India) saying, “Unless you are a Hindi channel you will never be recognized as a mass channel in India. This is why Toon Disney also has a Hindi feed now, and Disney Channel is all Hindi”.

Flying  High with Disney and Jet

In May 2012, Disney Channel partnered with Jet Airways as a kickstart to the soon-to-be-launched ‘Jet Set Go' campaign, The airlines flew  30 children and their families to the Hong Kong Disneyland. An Economic Times article also mentioned that the campaign saw Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 aircraft wrapping up with popular Disney characters such as Mickey and Friends - and took along with it the contest winners to Hong Kong Disneyland for a two-day experience.

As per the reports, a part of the activity children would accumulate points each time they spot the aircraft on Disney Channel by dialing a toll-free number flashing on the screen, absolutely free of cost and leaving a missed call. Whoever spots the plane for the maximum number of times per day earn the maximum number of points and at the end of each day.

The campaign is touted as a successful television campaign by the company in its attempt to mass generating leads and increasing viewership as kids stayed glued to their screens. It put Disney advertising journey on the map.

Shifting gears: From Kids to ‘Parivar’

Family values have always been dear to Indians. Disney identified this rationale during its rebranding activity in December 2014  with the new logo used internationally. The logo color was now changed from blue to purple and the communication strategy was now focused on ‘Family viewing’ instead of kids.

With the roll-out of an array of family-oriented shows on the weekend programming block, Disney Channel launched a campaign titled "Shanivaar, Ravivaar only for Parivaar".

The channel had completed 10 years of its existence in India and thereby undertook the rebranding exercise with a new logo along with a new strategic campaign conceptualized by Taproot India. The objective was to make viewers aware that soon  (31 January 2015) Disney Channel will start airing weekend shows meant for families to watch together ‘Ek Saath’.

On the thought behind the campaign, the then VP - content and communications, Disney India Medianetworks, Vijay Subramaniam was quoted, “Worldwide, Disney is a family entertainment channel. It's in India that we started off as a kids' channel but, over time, we have seen the channel getting a great amount of parental approval. The thought was that it is the right time to start entertaining the other members of the family."

With shows like Maan Na Maan Mein Tera Mehman, Kabhi Aise Geet Gaya Karo', Goldie Ahuja Matric Pass', Lage Raho Chachu aimed at strengthening its core in the hearts of Indian families.

In May 2018, the channel changed its

logo colour yet again to blue, as used internationally.

Disney’s Awkward Moment

Addressing the need for parents to be responsible and make the right entertainment choice for their kids, Disney India’s campaign titled #ThatAwkwardMoment launched this year. It reflected the importance of retaining their childhood and innocence by having them watch age-appropriate content that is specially curated for them by the Disney Kids Network.

The 35 seconder film starts off with a mother questioning her 6-year old daughter about her missing science book and the girl immediately reacts like a stereotype antagonist from a soap opera - indicating her television consumption is restricted to adult series. The film gives a sneak peek into the lives of millions of families in modern-day India, where kids are consuming adult-targeted content.

This TVC delivered a hard-hitting message that focuses on repercussions of having kids watch adult content; in a very light-hearted, funny and entertaining manner where ‘Vo samjahti kya hai apne aapko’ sounded as adorable as the girl in the ad.

The channel then went onto release the second leg of the campaign with a new TVC based on a similar thought process.

Content Marketing and UGC

Apart from betting big on television and offline promotions, Disney made its presence felt in the branded content space too. The channel joined hands with Myntra for the #Unforgettables series, in celebration of its infamous toon, Mickey, turning 90 in 2018 as part of its global marketing initiative.

Many others too joined the celebration by wishing Mickey Mouse on completing 90 years and honoring the global phenomenon that it is.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Of making India Incredible

With a brief to create an initiative that was just as relevant and exciting for kids as it would be for their parents, a series of worldwide celebrations took place this year with a unique initiative called #StayFitWithMickeyandMinnie - Fit Hai Toh Hit Hai.

The campaign saw a number of product collaborations with brands and interactive social media conversations. In India, special collections from brands like Jack & Jones, Only, Vero Moda, Bewakoof, Zivame, with the Disney character in focus were launched.

Rocking the

Digital Land

With 1.93mn subscribers on its YouTube channel, 3.7 million followers on Facebook and around 200 k Instagrammers, it won’t be wrong to say that Disney India has kept pace with the fast-moving digital world.

From movie collaborations to promoting Oye Golu in every lingual possible to riding the adventure wave with the evergreen Ducktales family, Disney India’s social media gives us a peek into the fantasy world we always dreamt of living into.


Disney advertising journey might not be a very elaborate one but is certainly a memorable one. Ab tum dekti jao, for many more ads, are yet to come...

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