Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Why " Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair " is exactly the kind of product they should sell at the D23 store - and not a $314 pen ...
Good news: Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair 5 CD Box Set is finally released on March 24. Great idea, as it is a rare and highly collectible document of Walt Disney Imagineering history that will be released for the first time. Exactly the kind of merchandise the Disney fans are looking for. Not "Executive Pen" at $849.
Once again, i salute the initiative of the new D23 site and magazine. I have not seen yet the magazine, but i'm confident that it is good. No, the two problems that makes the fans screaming on all forums is the membership $74 price - some of them didn't understood that it includes four issues of the D23 magazine and not only a membership card and certificate. However, it's probably the wrong price at the wrong time. And i don't mention the "amazing" shipping price for non-U.S residents, probably due to the fact that Disney use generally DHL for any overseas shipment. Also, D23 is almost described like a "private club for Disney fans", but honestly, i think Disney fans are not sensitive to that. Let me be clear: if any of you could become instantly a member of the legendary Club 33 at Disneyland, i'm sure you will be happy, but the D23 membership - although it has real advantages - is probably seen more like a "virtual" club for Disney fans. In fact, it's even worst: simply nobody - or very very few people - cares anymore about "club and membership". It's the kind of mental image that belongs to the past, except for some super rich people.
To come back to the membership price, personally i think it's probably 30$ too high, but most of all the timing is terrible - did nobody tell them we are in the middle of a world economy crisis? At least probably not to the guy responsible of the D23 merchandise shop - in fact a new section on the Disney shopping web site. T-Shirts at $25 with only "Are you 23?" written on them - and with no disney logo! Pens at $314 or $849 !?! I'm sure the items are beautifully crafted, but the problem is elsewhere - it's simply that Disney fans are expecting other kind of collectibles!
And which kind of collectibles? Well, this "Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair 5 CD Box Set" is EXACTLY the kind of collectible they should sell at the D23 "boutique".
Need another example? Take this gorgeous Mark Twain Riverboat model released last year on Disney Shopping. Don't you think it would be a perfect collectible too for the D23 shop? For the Mark Twain it's too late of course, but they're is PLENTY of good collectible ideas that would be perfect for the D23 shop.
I have a long experience with Disney merchandise departments - specially since i did my Disneyland Paris book, and let me tell you more about it as it will help you to understand where is the problem. You have no idea what fight it has been, back ten years ago, to convince them that guests and fans were looking for this kind of book...even after the book was released they were surprised it sells so well. And since then, thousands copies of the book have been sold!
Do you want to know why you can't find the book at WDW or Disneyland shops? Not because i didn't proposed the book at their mechandise dept. I DID proposed the book to them. And even send them a copy so they can see how it looks. And what was the answer? Well, the answer was: "because the book is talking about Disneyland Paris, it will not interest ANYBODY at WDW or DL" !!! No kidding. It was just like Disney fans didn't exist for them. At least at that time, 7 years ago. But it's still true today, i could give you hundred of other examples, and personally, i arrived at this conclusion: merchandise dept guys (or women) simply don't know AT ALL what kind of products Disney fans are looking for. NO VISION, really. Okay, to be perfectly honest, since the Disneyland 50th Anniversary, and more specifically since the release of Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily 50th Ann collectibles on Disney shopping, Disneyland merchandise finally understood that true-fans collectibles could be profitable. Of course it is when it's well done! And also when it's NOT done in a "cheap" way (i'm thinking about the beautiful Tiki Fountain released last year for the Tiki Room anniversary and which had problems as Disney choose a cheap "pump" system and of course the pump began to stop working after few hours...)
Frankly, there is nothing more simple than to find good ideas for special-fans collectibles. But there is ONE condition for that: you MUST be a fan yourself, that's the trick. If you're not a Disney fan, you can't know how Disney fans are thinking, right? And this is where the problem is: most people at merchandise dept don't think like Disney fans. They think they do, but in fact, deeply, they don't. Believe me.
Now, there are exceptions: i was talking about Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily, well, here are two persons, designing Disney collectible since years and years (and it's always perfect) and who are ALSO Disney hardcore fans. And it's hard to find a collectible they've designed that didn't provoked fan enthusiasm. And i'm sure they're not alone. But Kevin and Jody - and i am NOT their "agent"! - would be, in my opinion, the best people qualified to create D23 collectibles. I mean: collectibles that fans will rush to order. Even expensive one.
Do you remember the famous line from Kevin Costner movie "Fields of Dreams"? : "If you build it, he will come". The line became famous since then, but it's perfect for what we talk about today, and a perfect message to D23 Boutique managers/designers : "If you build them ( the right collectibles) , fans will come". And if you don't know what to do, ask those who knows - i mean, of course, those who are REAL fans.
Photo: copyright Disney