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Maverick's Morning Thoughts

How Disney Outsmarted Rachel Zegler to Resurrect Snow White

Maverick Steffen  -  1/2/2024

Many companies lose sight of what's truly important: understanding and responding to what their customers actually want and need.

Marketing is the bridge between a business and its customers.

It's how companies communicate the value they're offering, and it's how customers express their responses, whether through spending their dollars, sharing feedback, or engaging online.

Surprisingly, many companies set up shop, launch products, and deploy marketing strategies without genuinely grasping what keeps their customers up at night.

Take a lesson from Disney's playbook.

The entertainment giant recently faced a whirlwind of controversy surrounding their newest film "Snow White."

Rachel Zegler (who is playing Snow White) made some polarizing comments regarding the main character of the story (and the story itself), which drove a large backlash, as well as some leaked images that seemed to seriously deviate from the film's original theme and style.

“I just mean that it’s no longer 1937,” Zegler said. “We absolutely wrote a ‘Snow White’ that ... she’s not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love; she’s going to be dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be and that her late father told her that she could be if she was fearless, fair, brave and true.”

"We have a different approach to what I'm sure a lot of people will assume is a love story just because we cast a guy in the movie," she said. "It's really not about the love story at all, which is really, really wonderful."

Maybe it's just me, but taking the love story out of Snow White would be like taking the Dinosaurs out of Jurassic Park.

Instead of charging ahead following the Rachel Zegler and Peter Dinklage controversy, Disney listened to the public's response.

The Marxists love trying to reengineer western themes instead creating new themes themselves. It's like the friend who was too irresponsible to have a license so they always need a ride--then they criticize your car!

Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones also had some criticism of the original with its "outdated" portrayal of dwarfs. In response, Disney assured changes, consulting with the dwarfism community to avoid reinforcing stereotypes.

However, since that comment, many people from the LP (Little Person) community have come out and criticized Dinklage for 1) acting as if he is the speaker for the entire LP community, 2) eliminating 7 high-paying jobs for the LP community as little people would have been cast for these roles had Dinklage not opened his mouth!

Instead of charging ahead with the film following the Rachel Zegler and Peter Dinklage controversy, Disney listened to the public's response.

They pushed back the movie's release (I think by a year or so), using the time to make significant changes, such as making the 7 dwarfs resemble,,, actual dwarfs by using CGI to alter that, and other key content and themes Disney no longer wishes the film to be about.

This wasn't just about avoiding bad press; it was about respecting and responding to what their target market was saying. And money, a LOOOOOOOT of money.

The point here is simple yet profound: your goal in marketing should be to listen — really listen — to what your customers are telling you.

This isn't about passive hearing; it's about active listening and converting insights into actionable strategies.

If you're always talking at your customers about your products or services, you're missing the chance to understand their evolving needs and preferences.

People's tastes change! Their needs and desires are influenced by a myriad of factors — from competition to global events like a pandemic, from shifts in the economy to new technological advances — what was desirable 3 years ago might not hold the same appeal today.

I had a large medical supplier client that was blasting away at their customers with daily emails. The CEO was indifferent when I brough the issue to him.

So I added his personal email to the company's email list. Within a week, he increased my fee and asked me to totally overhaul their entire marketing email system.

By engaging in real-time feedback, by truly understanding and respecting what your customers think and feel and how they experience your brand, you position your business not just to react but to proactively evolve with your market.

After all, only a narcissistic imbecile (not naming any names...) shouts what they think without considering how it may impact the very people that pay their salary.

That's not you, and now, it's no longer Disney. Cheers, Mr. Iger (CEO of Disney)!

To your success!


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