Mickey Taps the Mainframe

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In 1995, I saw the first installment of Disney’s Toy Story movie franchise. At nine years old, I thought the new animation featured in this film was the coolest thing I’d ever seen – Disney could never top it! But in 2010, now a PR professional, leave it to the New York Times to remind me that Disney will always find a way to stay on top.

According to the Times, on May 26, Disney launched the latest addition to its global public relations strategy, a brand new, one-of-a-kind Facebook application: Disney Tickets Together.

On its Facebook page, Disney Tickets Together offers tickets for the upcoming release of Toy Story 3 for purchase in advance of regular ticket sales. Not only does the app allow users to access movie tickets without leaving the social networking platform, but it also allows them to invite friends and followers to join in the purchase with a Facebook status update: “Let’s go see Toy Story 3 with Disney Tickets Together!”

With its social theme and the tagline, “no friend left behind,” Disney Tickets Together is all about the group mentality. Tapping into our playground memories of “everybody’s doing it,” the Facebook app capitalizes not only on our tendency for impulse buys, but also our need for friend reinforcement. The page prompts the question, “who are you bringing with you?”  Which of course makes users think maybe just bringing Mom and Dad and brother Jimmy might not be enough.  Time to gather up the neighborhood and buy more tickets!

So what does it all mean? Approaching 500 million users, Facebook has been heralded as a crucial part of competitive marketing campaigns across all industries. The Disney Tickets Together page lists 14,881 monthly active users, and 650 “fans” to date. Mashable.com calls the application, “a brilliant example of social media synergy.” Will the Disney Tickets Together application wane as another stream of full impact marketing strategies comes along? Or is this the next “it” thing for Hollywood and movie-goers alike? I’m going with the latter.

For the record, to use the application, you must grant permission for the program to make your personal information public on Facebook. It provides your name, profile picture and list of all of your “friends” to Disney, allowing them to contact an exponentially large amount of people about your activity (and their product). Hmmm…an application which immediately links your business to previously unreached audience members – can you say, “goldmine”?

Within the entertainment industry, Digisynd, the social media division of The Walt Disney Company, is leading the foray into maximizing the utility of social networking sites. The folks at Disney certainly have quite the task at hand considering the decline of movie attendance and ticket sales in recent years; it seems Mickey is carrying all of Tinsel Town on his little mouse shoulders.

But with one of the world’s most trusted brands at the helm, and heavyweights Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) and Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) anchoring the Disney Board, success for the Disney Tickets Together application and groundbreaking social media strategy appears inevitable.

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