WOM, Banner Ads Support Disney Radio's Mobile Version

Disney Marketing gurus behind the Radio Disney mobile Web site and text-messaging service aimed at tweens plan to rely on word-of-mouth marketing and a few banner ads to spread the love--at least for now.

The Walt Disney Internet Group's mDisney mobile content division recently launched a version of Radio Disney that lets consumers connect to music on any mobile phone with Internet access and data services. Consumers can see the last 10 tunes played, request songs through text messaging via shortcode, participate in polls, and locate Radio Disney stations.

Today, banner ads on MySpace and Disney.com market the mobile version of Radio Disney. This summer, the strategy shifts to a more traditional marketing and advertising campaign, according to Trish Halamandaris, VP/marketing and carrier sales at mDisney, part of the Walt Disney Internet Group. "We will have a full marketing and advertising campaign, but we are still locking in the plans," she tells Marketing Daily.



Marketing efforts for the mobile version of Radio Disney could tie into major campaigns for movies such as "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" and "Wall•E." The print ads would ask consumers to text a shortcode for more information or to download a ringtone of a song.

Launching products or services through press releases, word of mouth, or viral marketing and advertising campaigns lets companies fly under the radar of competitors that might want to keep track of the competition. It also allows the brand to gain momentum and credibility by building a loyal following.

Disney's strategy is not that unusual these days, according to Amy Shea, EVP/global director of brand development at Brand Keys. "Brands don't feel as enthusiastic about television or online as they once did, because they are not sure if they work," she says. "You can measure clicks and eyeballs online, but what does awareness really tell you? People become a little befuddled, which tend to make them pull back on traditional channels."

Many companies tend to rely on press releases or word of mouth until products and services build credibility before moving into traditional marketing programs. It could take months--sometimes years--because most new ideas take off slowly.

For example, when a brand called Red Bull hit the market, consumers perceived it as becoming an overnight success, but it didn't. In fact, Al Ries, marketing strategist at Ries & Ries, New York, says it took nine years from the product launch in 1987 to reach 100 million in sales worldwide.

"Coca-Cola never paid attention to Red Bull, so they didn't launch their first energy drink KMX until 13 years later and it never went anywhere," Ries says. "When products become successful there's a perception that it comes out of nowhere, but when you really look at the numbers you'll find the more revolutionary the idea, the slower it takes off."

Radio Disney's mobile site will support advertising--most likely from fashion, consumer packaged goods, and automotive brands, such as Hewlett-Packard or Land Rover, two brands that recently ran separate campaigns on Disney.com.

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