Randall Murphy

Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. It’s obvious that the executives at Disneyland and Einstein are of the same mindset. That’s because at Disney, their imaginative minds created a promotion that is pure genius. When it comes to unbelievably brilliant and successful marketing campaigns, this one takes the cake. It’s the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” celebration and it’s truly amazing!

If you haven’t heard about it, the promotion is creating a huge buzz that’s sweeping the nation like a wildfire. Give a day, get a Disney day means if you volunteer a day, you’ll get a free admission to a Disneyland theme park. At the Disneyland Website, there’s a searchable database for volunteer opportunities in your area to find jobs that range from “specific trade experience required” to handing out drinking water at a marathon race. After I had seen a few Disneyland commercials and heard a few testimonials from friends who had volunteered, I was intrigued and decided to volunteer. I wanted to witness firsthand what the buzz was all about. (Plus, a trip to Disneyland sounded like fun.)

The opportunity I signed up for was handing out gift baskets to expecting parents on the military base at Camp Pendleton. Not only was it gratifying to see their smiling faces when they received the gifts, but also to shake the hands of our military personnel and thank them for their dedication and service for protecting our nation. It was a very moving experience that was shared by all. It was also an emotional experience I’ll never forget and these heartwarming feelings that are now committed to memory are directly tied to Disneyland. This takes branding to a brand new level.

Another powerful advantage of the campaign, and probably the greatest, is it inspires people to give by volunteering their time. Everyone had fun and it encouraged camaraderie and the sharing of personal stories, and for those who had never volunteered before, they will most likely volunteer again - not to receive an admission pass, but because they are driven to do so. The event wasn’t only for adults, entire families got involved, which offered an amazing learning experience to teach great values for all ages.

Since we are entrepreneurs, let’s talk about something that’s constantly on our minds; let’s talk numbers. As of February 25, Disneyland had given away over 1 million free tickets. The numbers are staggering and it’s only the beginning because the program ends in December. I wouldn’t be surprised if they reach 50 million or more visitors. (Hmm, I wonder if there’s any kind of tax advantage here?) Think about it, over 1 million ecstatic visitors (at this point) will be eating, drinking, and purchasing lots and lots and lots of merchandise. For a family of five, they save nearly $500 on the admission price, which means they’ve got a lot more money to spend on goodies. And if you’ve ever gone to the Disney Store, you know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of very cool (and expensive) goodies that visitors can’t seem to do without.

For some strange reason, when you live close to a large attraction, you rarely ever visit it. That is, until you’ve got guests and everyone wants to go. As for me, it’s been nearly 20 years since I’ve visited “The happiest place on earth.” It’s not because I’m a sourpuss, it’s because time escapes us. While talking with other volunteers throughout the day, I discovered we all shared one thing in common… we hadn’t been to Disneyland in years. (So, I’m not the only one.) Think about it, Disney is creatively digging into their “database” of past customers and brining it back to a brilliant shimmer in one giant swoop.

At this point, if you’re like most, your mind is probably racing with all of the possibilities. If you don’t consider yourself a creative type, here’s a suggestion to get the creative juices flowing. A few years back I had a client with a campaign similar to Disney’s, only on a much smaller scale; however, they missed the mark. They offered a 10 percent discount when customers donated food (non-perishables). Each technician had a 55-gallon drum at the shop to put the food in that had a piece of paper attached to it with the tech’s picture on it. The barrels were placed in a common hallway to remind techs to tell customers about the promotion; it also created a little competitive drive.

The campaign was a huge success; they were able to donate 2,000 pounds of food and because of the amount, they coined the phrase, “We’re giving away a ton of food.” However, they missed out on agiganticmarketing opportunity. That’s because the only people who knew about it were their customers and the food shelter that received the goods. When they reached 2,000 pounds of food, they should have contacted the local media and announced publicly they were looking for a charity to give the food to. This would have created a stream of calls from shelters, not to mention new customers, and it would have generated a buzz in the community. Once a charity is chosen, contact the media again, but this time at the location of the shelter and show the techs unloading that ton of food and all of the happy faces and handshaking and hugging going on. Have interviews with charity volunteers, the owners and managers of the contracting shop, the recipients of the food and the techs who gathered the food. By doing so, they will share how the experience has touched their lives.

Like Disney’s campaign, it promotes a feel good story that inspires people to give and get involved. There’s a lot to learn from Disney’s example, so let’s not “Mickey Mouse” around. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) There’s an entire community out there just waiting to get excited about what you can do for them and what you’ve got to offer and the best part is… they want to help.

Publication date:04/05/2010