Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What Was Disney Thinking?

Once upon a time the Walt Disney Company was a corporate sloth. Walt Disney died in 1966. The corporation threaded water for two decades by doing things the Walt Way and asking the question “What would Walt do”? Corporate raiders/predators started circling Disney, like vultures.

The Company turned to Michael Eisner in 1984 for change. And change it got, plenty of change. Eisner may not have been a creative genius, but he understood economics.

The future of Disney would be to make money, and it did. Prices were progressively raised, and costs ruthlessly controlled. The greatest example of bean counting by the Eisner regime is California Adventure. Be sure to check out the stories in Mouse Tales.

Execs were now measured by cash flow – not by what Walt wanted, although Eisner did present himself as the face of Disney, that is, the reincarnation or second coming of Walt.

Shareholders were rewarded handsomely, none more so than Eisner who reaped over a billion dollars from Disney.

I digress.

The new Disney is geared to reacting quickly to seize opportunities. It constantly reinvents itself; Out with the old, in with the new!

Two days after the Navy Seals Raid that killed Osama Bin-laden, the Disney Corporation filed three applications to trademark “Seal Team 6,” presumably for use on products, rides, cartoons, movies, or TV shows. Who knows for sure since the Wonderful World of Disney is a universe onto itself.

The possibilities are endless:

Mickey Mouse as a Navy Seal on an overpriced T-shirt;

Donald Duck as a Navy Seal on an overpriced T-shirt;

The omnipresent giftshops with Seals bobble-heads;

Seals facial kits and outfits;

A new ride in Adventure Land – Obama Offs Osama;

A pin set, made in China, featuring Navy Seals, helicopters, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, Osama and his entourage, Taliban and Al Qaeda figures, and each of Osama’s successors as they meet a similar fate with the Seals;

A yet again submarine ride, this time searching for Osama’s body;

Tomorrow Land with a super secret stealth helicopter ride over Pakistan to replace Peter Pan’s Ride;

Soaring Over Afghanistan to replace Soaring Over California;

Food stands selling Seals Dogs;

Adding Osama to the pantheon of Disney villains, next to Scrooge McDuck;

The new patriotic fireworks with Osama as the villain;

The Rants of Osama Automaton;

Main Street Abbotabad;

A new TV show, “I Led Three Wives”;

The Hills of Tora Bora to replace the aged Matterhorn;

The daily Electric Light Getting Osama Parade;

Osama’s Magic Carpet Ride;

The Sheik Osama Bazaar;

Pirates of the Mediterranean featuring the Navy Seals;

Save the Seals Foundation;

Ride the Seals through Osama’s Lair;

The Rivers of Pakistan, captained by a Seal shooting at fleeting Al Qaeda;

What was Disney thinking? Did Disney believe that a Mouse could trump the Seals?

Did it really believe two days after the Osama Raid that it could trademark “Seal Team 6’?

Navy Seals 6, Navy Seals Team 6, or Navy Seals belong to the United States, the United States Military, and the American people. Disney should no more be able to trademark the Seals than the Space Shuttles, Navy Polaris Submarines, Green Berets, the 5 Marines and one sailor raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, or the F.D.N.Y. flag raising at Ground Zero.

Disney can certainly protect individual products, but not the generic names. Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are selling their celebratory Navy Seals merchandise. They made no attempt to trademark the generic names or phrases.

The AP owns the copyright of the 5 Marines and the Navy Corpsman raising the Flag on Mt. Suribachi, and Time the copyright of Eisenstadt’s photo of the sailor kissing the nurse. Neither trademarked the events

The Department of Defense filed applications of its own.

The Walt Disney Company withdrew its applications.

Disney wasn’t thinking.

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