Ever since Steven Clark -- the head of D23 -- stepped down
in late September, people have been wondering what this means for the future of
the Official Disney Fan Club. Even though Bob Iger had already announced that
The Walt Disney Company would be staging another D23 EXPO in Anaheim
in 2015, there were those within the Disneyana fan community who were concerned about the Club's future.
The Ben Franklin & Mark Twain audio animatronic figures from the finale of Epcot's "American Adventure" attraction. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
Well, to borrow a phrase from Mark Twain: The reports of
D23's death has been greatly exaggerated. For earlier today, Adam Sanderson has
been named senior vice president, corporate communications of The Walt Disney
Company. And among Adam's new duties will be overseeing The Official Disney Fan
Club and the Walt Disney Archives.
Mind you, Sanderson's no new arrival at the Mouse House. A
17-year Disney veteran, Adam most recently served as senior vice president,
franchise management of Disney/ABC Television Group. While he worked in that
arm of the Company, Sanderson was responsible for launching, building and
sustaining franchises for Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio
Disney, ABC Family, ABC Entertainment Group, and ABC Daytime. Prior to that,
Adam served as senior vice president, brand marketing of Disney Channels
Worldwide, helping to build High School Musical, Hannah Montana and Disney
Junior into franchise successes, and managing all synergy initiatives.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
In a press release announcing Sanderson's promotion, Zenia
Mucha -- the executive vice president and chief communications officer of The
Walt Disney Company stated that " ... Our fans and our history are two of
the things that distinguish Disney, and Adam will have oversight of both with
D23 and the Disney Archives. His experience in brand marketing and franchise
management, along with his knowledge of the Company, make him a great choice to
lead this talented team."
In addition to Mr. Sanderson's appointment, Taye Shuayb has
been named director of production, Disney Corporate Creative Resources,
reporting directly to Mr. Sanderson. Mr. Shuayb joined Disney last August as
manager of production for Disney Corporate Creative Resources, after managing
creative services at both Time Warner and Comcast. Jeffrey Epstein will
continue to oversee D23 public relations, marketing and fan relations, and
Rebecca Cline remains director of The Walt Disney Archives.
Getting back to Adam now ... Mr. Sanderson joined Disney in
1997 as vice president, marketing of Disney Channel, and went on to become
senior vice president, marketing, of the then-named ABC Cable Networks Group.
Prior to Disney, he had been vice president of promotion marketing at FX Networks
Inc., promotion director at Condé Nast Traveler, and president and founder of
Sanderson Associates, an entertainment-marketing firm. Mr. Sanderson graduated from the University
of Albany with a bachelor of arts
degree in communications.
Anyway ... Given Adam's history of building franchises and
managing synergies (especially in the newer arms of the Company like Disney XD,
Disney Junior and ABC Family), it'll be interesting to see what sort of spin
Sanderson will put on The Official Disney Fan Club. What direction Adam now
takes D23 in.
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That said, Steven Clark (who basically grew The Official
Disney Fan Club up out of nothing) will be kind of a tough act to follow. So
here's wishing Adam Sanderson the best of luck as he now settles in at D23.
Wait...isn't this the guy who got rid of the ABC Soaps and Walt off the Disney Channel? And he's in charge of D23 and the archives? Talk me down, please.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry, Shelly. But " ... these aren't the droids that you are looking for." Adam Sanderson didn't have anything to do with these somewhat controversial decisions to shut down SoapNet and/or the rebranding/repositioning of the Disney Channel. So " ... move along. Move along."
Here's hoping that Adam will make the club more worth my money. This was the first year we didn't get an exclusive calendar to put up for the year that had great artwork and many things I've never seen before. Also the whole catastrophe of having "levels" of the club is just a joke. At this point it is probably nearly impossible to remove the levels of membership, including the free one. I also hope they start having more events at Disney World rather than in California, and also not pricing these events through the roof. They seem like they forget that we pay an arm and a leg for membership to begin with. Finally, along with the events, it would be nice if there was at least a small discount on the D23 store. Prices are equal or more to similar items in the store. Again, we paid for this.
From a Charter Member
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm a little confused here, John. Are you saying that -- as a D23 member -- that you still pay the same price for " ... similar items" at the Disney Store? Because I'm pretty sure that D23 members have been getting a discount at the Disney Store for at least two years. Plus doesn't The Official Disney Fan Club send out e-mails / release FanFares about special merchandise offers? I mean, I know. It's hard sometime to stay on top of limited time offers like this, especially if you're like me and regularly get socked with a big pile of e-mail. But to give the folks at D23 credit, they have been listening to members' concerns and have been trying to address individual issues as they come up. That said, I don't actually know what happened with this year's calendar ...
I suspect that we're going to see more of an emphasis on D23 as a promotional vehicle for the Company, given Mr. Sanderson's background. The trick is to see whether or not the Company will want to focus exclusively on that angle; given that the club's never really brought in the number of paid memberships they were hoping for, they may decide to abandon the paid memberships entirely and focus on events that will attract large numbers of the free members. If that happens, I could see "Twenty-three Magazine" being a casualty, as well as high-profile (and price) but limited participation events like the Smoke Tree Ranch event going away. Well, good luck to them, whichever way they end up going...