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Adam Sanderson is named as the new head of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club

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Adam Sanderson is named as the new head of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club

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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.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

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.

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  • 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...

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