Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Planting the Disney seed in China

Whoa, so this headline from the Financial Times is pretty weird – "Disney to expand language schools in China" – but the cynical take on it is even weirder:

The growing Chinese middle class means there is no shortage of parents willing to pay $2,200 a year for tuition of two hours a week. But the schools also enable Disney to forge a bond with a new generation of consumers who may be unaware of the company’s characters and stories.

The president of Disney Publishing Worldwide tries, unconvincingly, to downplay that part:

“We wouldn’t enter this business just to use it as a marketing tool to get Disney in front of people,” he said. “But there’s no doubt that a side benefit is broader exposure to Chinese consumers and to build familiarity with the rich heritage of Disney storytelling.”

Government media controls and quotas restricting the number of films shown in cinemas have prevented Disney from establishing its brand in China in the way it has in Europe and the US.

The success of the programme has convinced the company to explore other markets. “The next 12 months will be focused on rapid expansion [in China],” said Mr Hampton. But it was also “a very exciting time to invest in Brazil”.

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