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Monday MouseWatch : Is Bob Iger getting ready to say "Buenas Noches" to Buena Vista ?

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Monday MouseWatch : Is Bob Iger getting ready to say "Buenas Noches" to Buena Vista ?

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William Shakespeare once said:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet."

Well, I don't know Bob Iger would agree with the Bard. The way Disney's new CEO supposedly sees things, the proper answer to that "What's in a name?" question should probably be:

"Brand recognition & market share"

To Bob's way of thinking, the Walt Disney Company -- as it exists today -- is this unnecessarily complicated collection of confusing corporate entities. A place where it's possible for Walt Disney Studios to produce a Touchstone Pictures release. Which -- in turn -- is then released to theaters through Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.

And Bob ... Well, let's just say that this guy now wants to clear up all of the corporate clutter. Not to mention strengthening Disney, ESPN & ABC by renaming various divisions of the corporation after its three main brands.

Copyright 2007 Disney

The first part of the Mouse Factory to receive an entirely new moniker was Buena Vista Games. Which -- back in February of this year -- was renamed Disney Interactive Studios.

When asked why BVG had suddenly changed its name, Thierry Braille -- Vice President and Managing Director of Europe, Middle East, Australia, and Latin America -- explained:

"It is pretty simple really. A lot of the non-Disney branded divisions are considering changing their name. We are the first to do it. Changing from BVG to Disney Interactive Studios is actually related to this big focus that the company (now) has on the Disney brand."

Of course, what's kind of ironic about all this is -- even as Disney Interactive Studios is trying to make better use of the Mouse House's best-known brand name -- the company's computer gaming division is right in the middle of launching its new Touchstone division. Which will then be used to distribute more adult-oriented fare like its new "Turok" shooter game.

Copyright 2007 Touchstone

"And what's so ironic about that?," you ask. Well, here is DIS glomming onto "Touchstone" just as Touchstone Television is tossing that name off. As of February of this year, that TV production unit became known as ABC Television Studio.

And if the rumors that are coming out of the Team Disney Burbank building are true ... This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Buena Vista Home Entertainment (I.E. The arm of the corporation that handles all of Mickey's videos & DVDs) is soon to receive a much more Disney-centric name. Even Hyperion Books may soon find itself becoming Mouse-ified.

"But is all this rebranding really necessary?," you query. Bob Iger seems to think so. Given that the Landor Company's most recent brand valuation survey listed the Disney name as being second only to Coca-Cola in worldwide recognition ... Well, the Mouse House's new CEO wants to make the most of that name recognition.

 Copyright 2007 Disney

Mind you, what really helps in this situation is -- thanks to the enormous popularity of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films -- Disney-branded fare appeals to a much broader audience these days. And Iger is eager to take advantage of this unique opportunity by putting more films like The Curse of the Black Pearl" & "Dead Man's Chest" into production. Witness last week's news stories that Michael Bay may soon sign to direct "Prince of Persia." Or -- better yet -- that persistant rumor about how Johnny Depp has already agreed to appear in "Pirates 4." Which would then be Disney's big tentpole picture for the Summer of 2010.

Now as for ESPN ... Given that -- starting in September of last year -- every single sporting event that was broadcast on ABC was rebranded "ESPN on ABC," Bob's refocusing of that Bristol, CT.-based broadcasting behemoth has already been underway for eight months now. Though there's no definitive word yet as to whether this effort has actually translated into higher ratings for the Alphabet Network.

And speaking of ABC ... Given that Disney's TV syndication arm, Buena Vista Television as well as its foreign sales unit, Buena Vista International Television are both expected to be alphabetized in the not-so-distant future ... Look for ABC to maintain a much higher profile at the Mouse Factory from here on in.

 Copyright 2007 Disney

Now, I'm sure that there are purists out there who are going to grieve once they hear that the Buena Vista & Hyperion names may someday completely disappear from Disney's corporate roster. Given their obvious ties to the Mouse House's history (I.E. "Hyperion" is the name of the avenue where Walt Disney Studios was located from 1925 - 1939. "Buena Vista" refers to the street on which Disney corporate headquarters has been located since 1939), these names obviously mean a lot to Disneyana fans as well as film historians.

But Bob Iger ... While he obviously has great respect for Disney's past, the Mouse House's new CEO's main focus these days is the company's future. And the key to succeeding there (At least to Bob's way of thinking) is by putting most of the corporation's time, money & energy behind its three main brands: Disney, ESPN & ABC.

But what do you folks think? Is it really wise for Iger to focus on this rebranding effort? Or would it be better in the long run if Disney's new CEO didn't worry about what division was named what? But -- rather -- focused his attention on creating new things (Be they movies, TV shows, computer games or theme park attractions) for the company to sell?

Your thoughts?

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  • As a stock holder, I think that rebranding is fine. What's important though is quality product. Keep quality product, with a great story.

  • I agree, I don't see rebranding under an extremely strong brand name as a bad thing, as long as the quality is still there. This is where the hiring of Michael Bay troubles me, as he might be the worst filmmaker of all time (end hyperbole). Seriously though, the man makes visually oriented crap where the story is secondary to the special effects. Disney is all about story, which is why I don't understand the logic behind this hire.

    BTW, the way the Backlot Tour at the Studios has become a living tribute to Michael Bay sickens me.

  • I agree with the rebranding decision.  I think the Disney name can be an assurance of quality for the diverse products currently found under other (sometimes cryptic) names.  I appreciate the history of the Hyperion and BV names, but that's more of an interesting trivia answer than a marketing coup.  

  • Well, the renaming of Touchstone Television to ABC Television Studio made sense since other television companies have been renamed for the other two "Big Three" networks.  Universal Television was renamed NBC Universal Television after NBC and Universal merged.  Paramount Television was renamed CBS Paramount Television following the Viacom-CBS split into two separate companies.  Therefore, it made sense to name the television decision after ABC.  However, I kind of wished it was named ABC Touchstone Television.

  • Call me sentimental, but I hate the name changes. Touchstone Television to ABC Television Studio was okay. No problem with that. But changing property with the brand name "Buena Vista" to just "Disney" (or something related), no. It's the history part that holds "Buena Vista" up for me. Even though "Disney" may be one of the biggest brands of all time, sticking to a part of your own history is always good. And I know that from an economic viewpoint the name change is good, but haven't we been pushing Walt Disney Co. lately to think less of money and more of good value? (in theme parks, movies, etc.)

    And I also think the "Disney" brand is limited to family entertainment. What are they going to name "Buena Vista Distribution" now than? Since it also distributes horrors, thrillers, R-rated movies, etc. from Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures. I would find it strange if it was renamed "Walt Disney Distribution" or something like that. And the whole "Buena Vista Games is now Disney Interactive Studios again, but even though there is a Touchstone Games in the making" situation keeps surprising me. Again it seems as if top executives from different branches of the company don't communicate with each-other.

    (Strange that the Landor Study image has "Disney" and "Kodak" in their respective fonts, but the strongest brand, "Coca Cola", in one of their lesser known "Coca Cola" fonts.)

    Oh, and.. Michael Bay to direct "Persia".. When I heard the news last week my hope for "Persia" got a little crack. Iew, Bay. I mean, "Pearl Harbor" was one of the worst movies I ever saw, and even though "The Island" was okay, it still wasn't a good movie. And "Persia" needs to be a perfect movie!!

  • I guess we will still have Lake Buena Vista to remember the "good ol' days".

    Or will it too be renamed to "Lake Disney" or "ABC Lake" or something?

  • empoor said:

    "And I also think the "Disney" brand is limited to family entertainment. What are they going to name "Buena Vista Distribution" now than? Since it also distributes horrors, thrillers, R-rated movies, etc. from Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures. I would find it strange if it was renamed "Walt Disney Distribution" or something like that."

    I completely agree- If Disney retains Touchstone & Hollywood Pictures (and their names), then they need one entity to encompass it; Some people, if they went to an R-rated Touchstone film, for example, and saw any mention of Disney, they might walk out and ask for a refund.  Seriously, if they're not going to rename Touchstone & Hollywood Pictures, then they shouldn't rename the distribution arm to something with "Disney" in the title (as much as I love Disney).

    "ABC Lake"- lol, Rosani.

  • This article is the definition of "mixed emotions" for me ... on one hand, I'm not married to these old names so if changing them is good for business then I think that's fine.

    But I am just so tired of this bland, boring old corporate thought coming out of Disney. "Branding" and "tentpoles" and "franchises" ... sounds like a bunch of cows going on a camping trip to McDonald's!

    I had some hopes for Iger, but he's turning out to be the very definition of the bland American corporate executive. Who cares what name is on it? If it's good, it's good. If it sucks ... well ... you can figure that one out on your own ...

  • I think he should be more concerned with quality than branding. You can name any division whatever you want but if the product stinks it doesn't matter what the name is. As far as the distribution arm there is no way they can get away with having the Disney name on anything R-rated. It doesn't matter where it would appear in credits there would be a major backlash. After spending his first year getting the divisions in order I really hoped Iger was going to take a look at the theme park division now but I guess not. I don't know what it is going to take for someone to fix the problems at WDW.

  • "Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movie?"-Team America/every person who has ever seen a Michael Bay moview.

    I want a story on this!

    But about the changing of the names, it makes sense to me. I was always confused by all of the different names they used, which ones were connected to Disney and which weren't, so it seems a whole lot simpler. I support it. While it might be offputting to some to know that Disney is still focused on business, it's because it is a business! Disney can't run on dreams, wishes, and pixie dust alone!

  • I think this has more to do with INTERNATIONAL sales than anything else.

    If you go to India and try to sell Buena Vista "whatever". The Indian customers are going to say, "What?!?", but if you try and sell Disney "anything", they will say, "Sure".

    This also applies to the domestic market somewhat, but you want to strengthen your brands to make them more competive overseas.

  • It just sounds like so much deck shuffling to me. Just a bunch of exectutives trying to justify their jobs by assigning everything with new names. Then again, maybe they really ARE streamlining, maybe they're cutting out some of the waste at the top (that would be nice) Personally, I think it's a mistake to drop the name Buena Vista, but they can call themselves anything they want as long as they keep the quality of their output up.

    BTW-what's so new about Disney Interactive?The name Disney Interactive has been around for almost ten years.

  • They changed the brand name "Disney Interactive" to "Buena Vista Games" in euh.. 2005 or so. Because then they could release more games that weren't only family, character or movie related. Well, guess they couldn't make up their minds, because now they're back to "Disney Interactive Studios" again...

  • "Mind you, what really helps in this situation is -- thanks to the enormous popularity of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films -- Disney-branded fare appeals to a much broader audience these days."

    Now THAT'S what I like to hear!

    I can't see exactly what the results will become from these name changes, but there's another way Iger can boost profits: Drop deadweight!

    There was the period in the 90's where Disney was randomly swallowing up smaller companies for no clear cause. Did they REALLY need to purchase Jumbo Pictures (now Cartoon Pizza), and ruin one of the most beloved Nicktoons? How much of the Lifetime Channel do they REALLY need? And I think they can do just fine with one adult-themed distribution arm, since Hollywood Pictures barely releases anything anymore.

    The Mouse could gain much more breathing room and much bigger profits if it becomes less of a pack rat.

  • (sarcasm on)

    Just the other day, I was planning to purchase a Disney DVD, when I happened to spot the words, "Buena Vista" on the label, and I remarked to my wife,

    "Buena Vista?  What is that?  How can a Disney DVD say the words "Buena Vista"?  Shouldn't one expect a Disney DVD have the word "Disney" instead?  Perhaps this "Buena Vista" is some sort of illegal South American bootleg distributer?  I am afraid to purchase this DVD.  It appears to be a legitimate Disney DVD, but in reality, it must be some sort of illegal product".

    I then left it on the shelf, as any responsible consumer would do, and glared at the local Wal-Mart manager as I departed for attempting to sell me and my fellow consumers a bootleg DVD from this shady "Buena Vista" operation.

    Fortunately, Bob Iger is allaying my fears.  By replacing suspicious-looking names like "Buena Vista" and "Hyperion" with much friendlier, well-known names like "Disney", "ABC", and "ESPN", we can now purchase our Disney DVDs in full confidence that the product we are receiving is genuine.  

    And even if the cost of these DVDs rises an extra $5 in order to cover the expense of thousands of changed cubicle nameplates, then I for one consider that to be "money well-spent"!  Thanks, Bob Iger!

    (sarcasm off)

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