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  1. #1

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    Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    I love Duffy and I would prefer if he was only available in the parks. I believe this gives him a special status. Essentially you must seek out Duffy products, they aren’t (until now) readily available just anywhere. They are a premium item, since they are relying on dedicated fans to purchase them since he has a very small market saturation.

    The idea of having a “park only” character seems to stray from Disney’s traditional business model. You can buy a Mickey, Minnie, Wreck it Ralf, Nemo… you name it – at hundreds of stores from Wal-Mart to Toys R Us. Part of Duffy’s novelty is that you COULN’T find him just anywhere. But, Disney USA also isn’t making much money on him. He’s a developed character that could be easily dropped into creative planning, so instead of doing additional research and development, they are looking to take the Duffy character and commercialize him into a TV star. (allegedly a show is in the works?)

    This implies a very significant shift from a niche character to a character with mass audience exposure. Obviously if Duffy is featured on TV, he will be more widely-known, and demand for Duffy merchandise will go up. When he is more of a mainstream character, the quality will go down as the masses just want a toy and are not demanding a high quality bear. They won’t intend to carry him around town and buy expensive intricate clothing. They just want another (cheap) stuffed toy. Think of those stuffed Mickeys you see at Walmart, they pale in comparison to “Park Duffy.”

    The upside is that most characters maintain a continuum of product merchandise. The park merchandise has traditionally always been superior to the stuff you find just anywhere. Hopefully Disney can cater to all Duffy lovers; the little kids who want a bear like the one they saw on TV, and the enthusiasts like us who want high quality merchandise. Only time will tell.

  2. #2

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Duffy’s domestic marketing campaign has stumbled and faltered due to The Walt Disney Company’s unsuccessful, halfhearted, and nescient attempts at imitation, reinvention, and renovation. Disney introduced the US to Duffy with a fanfare so lackluster that it could not even rival the most pathetic handshake or greeting exchanged between two (2) guests at a cocktail party. He was exclusive to the parks, but Americans were unaware of him because Disney did not mention their newest character in any of their advertising campaigns aimed at increasing visitor traffic at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Those park guests who did stumble unto Duffy were greeted, however, by high quality merchandise and a vision with an un-cemented foundation. He was Mickey’s traveling companion, and as such, was and could be the traveling companion of any park guest who desired to have him accompany them on their park, and subsequent, adventures. Unfortunately, Disney failed to fully develop Duffy’s conception, prior to his theme park release, and as a consequence, was unable to iron out the inevitable wrinkles which would, and have come to, stifle his fosterage and hinder his success. Resultantly, every action Disney has employed to correct their missteps has only caused Duffy to further flounder.

    When I met Duffy, I was attending The Pirates of the Caribbean world premiere at Disneyland. As soon as I saw him and read his little blue and yellow booklet, I adopted him and dressed him as Captain Jack Sparrow because I wanted him to partake in that memorable andonce in a lifetime occasion. Few noncelebrities could even attend the premiere, so any Duffy in attendance would be a lone ranger. His quality was above par, even if his conceptual development was a bit lacking, but my anticipation of his future development sufficiently enticed my desire to nurture him. Any Duffy merchandise I couldn’t obtain at a park visit, I was able to obtain via phone inquiries through Disney’s guest services. I was apprehensive about being unable to participate, or be the final judge, in the decision-making process of my Duffy merchandise, but the merchandise quality assuaged my apprehension. When Disney decided to offer “park authentic” merchandise online at disneystore.com, I noticed a significant decline in quality and a loss of Duffy’s identity and purpose. As Disney pervaded the market with pre-dressed Duffy bears but rarely released any new outfits for their founding Duffy mascots, the public began to perceive Duffy more as the dispensable Disney/Mickey bear intended to mark various holidays and occasions and less as a traveling companion meant to accompany people on all their adventures.

    As mgmenning stated, when Duffy was exclusive to the parks, both Disney and Duffy fans alike were dedicated to nurturing Duffy, although one could definitely argue that fans were more dedicated and excited than Disney execs. I agree with you, mgmenning, that when Duffy was a park-only character, his exclusivity certified his uniqueness and elevated his “special status.” I really wish Disney had further developed their vision and goals for Duffy instead of scrambling at straws when they noticed his dismal sales. Disney should have emphasized his status as a “park-only” character so that Duffy could have truly blossomed into a park mascot. As a consequence, possession of a Duffy bear or any Duffy merchandise would symbolize a recent adventure to the Disney theme parks. I also think Disney should have developed and cemented Duffy’s purpose as a traveling companion because such a campaign would have encouraged people, at the very least, to return to the parks with their Duffy bears. People may not have taken their Duffy bears everywhere, but they may have included him in some of their more special occasions.

    I think Disney executives panicked when Duffy did not perform as well as projected, and they employed an Apple/Steve Jobs approach to reinventing Duffy. They saturated the parks with the merchandise they believed park guests would purchase instead of researching consumer trends and reviewing the underlying reasons for Duffy’s decreased revenue. After all, people don’t know what they really want. So what did Disney do? They released a variety of pre-dressed and various-sized bears because they wagered on the bears’ novelty to entice sales. I think the sales from these bears were enough to stymie the revenue loss for a while but were still insufficient to bolster a revenue increase, and some area of production had to be addressed in order to close the gap, and that area was quality.

    If Disney had taken the Samsung approach to marketing, they would have acquired a comprehensive understanding of their Duffy fan base and as a result probably would have seen better sales. Not to mention quality wouldn’t have suffered and fans would have a greater variety of desirable merchandise. I was really excited, although apprehensive, about Duffy’s Street Release into local Disney Stores because I thought Disney would truly cement the idea of Duffy: the park mascot and traveling companion. I thought casual, Disney-themed clothing would be available for 17’ Duffies, in addition to the standard character costumes. Instead, “Duffy’s Street Release” was a simple rehash of the previous idea of variously sized bears, only this time consisting of sizes slightly different than the sizes formerly offered.

    I think Duffy’s current campaign has really cornered Disney. I think Disney is too focused on appeasing critics who detested Duffy’s park-based beginnings (hence the television show) and on luring Disney fans unfamiliar with Duffy (hence the market saturation into local stores). They’ve continuously ignored or minimally addressed the converts because they are certain of their grip inside Duffy fans’ wallets. If sales still don’t improve or reach a projected forecast, terminating Duffy’s rollout into Disney Stores would not only signify a character’s failure, but also indicate Disney’s very real trouble at generating revenue from character campaigning. Disney needs to go ahead, bite the bullet, and seriously commence listening to the Duffy fan base. If they improved the merchandise quality, emphasized Duffy’s origins as a traveling companion, and provided designer and inexpensive casual, Disney-themed clothing and Disney character costumes, they could simultaneously assure Duffy fans of their dedication and entice Disney fans, unfamiliar with Duffy, to his magic. The outcomes of such renovations and restructuring should not only renew and confirm faith in Disney magic, but also boost sales and generate revenue.

  3. #3

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    I agree, of course, with both of these well-written arguments. Can I just geek out for a minute about how happy I am to see more Duffy fans thinking and writing at length!

    The park exclusivity is probably lost, and I think ZT is absolutely right about the reason: knee-jerk response to absolutely valid criticism at the over-saturated BUY THIS EVERYWHERE NOW!! campaign that was unleashed upon the parks at launch.

    The thing I can't abide, though, is that Disney is so blatantly pandering to "Duffy haters" while consistently not catering to Duffy's FANS. Inexplicable and inexcusable. We are approaching the "too little, too late" tipping point for my patience with this, not that it matters what I think since I'm not in the US anyway.

    Also, while both of the above posters make excellent points about marketing strategy if Duffy were truly a property developed by Disney domestically, I am not interested in anything WDC does now until they acknowledge the Oriental Land Company and the creators behind Duffy by name and everywhere. I want it on the packaging, the Disney Store site, the Facebook page. I want to rest easy and assured that every Duffy fan everywhere in the world knows where he really comes from. I want the Japanese storybooks republished with author and illustrator credits (like the US has done even since the Disney Bear). I want costume and merchandise releases in Tokyo to come with interviews about the creative process — published in English on the DisneyParks Blog. Every time Monty Maldovan opens his mouth, I wanna hear him say "Oriental Land." I want to be able to say, "It all started with (insert Japanese Duffy visionary's name here)."

    They have muddied what was built solid by other artists. There is no making this work until they make this right. Some may suspect it's Oriental Land who keeps the names secret, encouraging teamwork rather than celebrity. I would argue that as a licensee, OLC will accept being honored in the spotlight if WDC encouraged them to. And now that we all know Mr Maldovan, it is too late to continue denying fans the opportunity to know exactly who it is we are truly so grateful to. Heck, I'd like the lead designer's photo, signature and brief comment on the back of every costume's packaging!

  4. #4

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Quote Originally Posted by DuffyDaisuki View Post
    The thing I can't abide, though, is that Disney is so blatantly pandering to "Duffy haters" while consistently not catering to Duffy's FANS.
    ^THIS! I don't understand why they are trying to reach out to these people and get them to love Duffy. Some people will always have strong opinions about certain things. Like how Stitch has people who adore him and people who really HATE him! They will never change those people's minds! So stop trying and start trying to please the FANS!
    Luv Duffy & Shellie May


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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Quote Originally Posted by Naelyan View Post
    ^THIS! I don't understand why they are trying to reach out to these people and get them to love Duffy. Some people will always have strong opinions about certain things. Like how Stitch has people who adore him and people who really HATE him! They will never change those people's minds! So stop trying and start trying to please the FANS!
    As you said in your post.... THIS! If people have their minds made up about something, it is VERY rare they are going to change. Disney needs to snap out of it and pander to the Duffy FANS. WE are the ones buying the bears and the merchandise. US, not the haters. Why Disney can't understand this.... it really makes my brain hurt trying to figure it out. It's not rocket science!

  6. #6

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    I think it's Disney trying to desperately figure out why Duffy isn't flying off the shelves without really trying to truly figure it out. Their response has been to try any number of things that, you know, fans haven't actually asked for. It's more like throwing everything but the kitchen sink in the hopes that something will catch on. If it's not smaller pre-dressed bears, then it's various sized bears, or rolling out to Disney Stores. They keep trying to cast a wider net hoping to catch the odd buyer, rather than focusing on a narrower market (Duffy fans) with higher quality products.

  7. #7

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Quote Originally Posted by gurgi View Post
    I think it's Disney trying to desperately figure out why Duffy isn't flying off the shelves without really trying to truly figure it out. Their response has been to try any number of things that, you know, fans haven't actually asked for. It's more like throwing everything but the kitchen sink in the hopes that something will catch on. If it's not smaller pre-dressed bears, then it's various sized bears, or rolling out to Disney Stores. They keep trying to cast a wider net hoping to catch the odd buyer, rather than focusing on a narrower market (Duffy fans) with higher quality products.
    EXACTLY! I wish there was a good way we could get Disney's attention and open their eyes to the problem.
    Luv Duffy & Shellie May


  8. #8

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Maybe you or Aimster should ask Mr Maldovan what the best way is for us to help and then report back? If anyone knows, it should be him, right?

  9. #9

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Quote Originally Posted by DuffyDaisuki View Post
    Maybe you or Aimster should ask Mr Maldovan what the best way is for us to help and then report back? If anyone knows, it should be him, right?
    I would think so, but it seems like he can't even get it through their heads that they need to go about this differently.

    I had mentioned something about getting Tshirts, or accessories like bags, keychains, kitchenwares, etc. He said he's been mentioning these things, but Disney doesn't seem to be interested. But, he did say he's been talking to someone in that "department" about taking on some ideas and trying to get them realized to bring forth to the Disney big wigs. The way he talks, it sounds like the artists and imagineers have ideas, but the decision makers are knocking everything down. I think it's their whole screwed up idea that they don't want to put money into Duffy to make these awesome things until he's more "popular". It's stupid.

    But I could definitely send him a message and ask him. If he knows the fans are upset, maybe he would know who we could voice our opinions to. I think it's worth a try.
    Luv Duffy & Shellie May


  10. #10

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Get an address and let's start a petition!

    Someone should filter the posts in these two threads into bullet points… …Not it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Naelyan View Post
    …Like how Stitch has people who adore him and people who really HATE him! They will never change those people's minds! So stop trying and start trying to please the FANS!

    Waitaminnit……there're people who hate Stitch?! But his story is almost PIXAR sweet!
    Last edited by DuffyDaisuki; 02-17-2013 at 08:20 AM.

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Fluffing fluff! I forgot I'd just posted…sorry!

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Quote Originally Posted by DuffyDaisuki View Post
    Waitaminnit……there're people who hate Stitch?! But his story is almost PIXAR sweet!
    There are a LOT of people who don't like Stitch. It's because they feel he's not "Disney" enough due to his destructive behavior. Plus him burping chili dog on you in his attraction at WDW doesn't help matters much either. I personally love Stitch BECAUSE of his destructive behavior. I know it sounds weird, but like me, he loves mayhem and shenanigans. I have a Stitch cell phone charm hanging from the rear view mirror of my car. I even named my car Stitch (even though it's silver).

  13. #13

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    I love Stitch, and I just don't understand the whole, "It's not Disney" argument about Stitch. I think sometimes people just have to have something to hate on. I mean, really....
    Luv Duffy & Shellie May


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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    Quote Originally Posted by Naelyan View Post
    I love Stitch, and I just don't understand the whole, "It's not Disney" argument about Stitch. I think sometimes people just have to have something to hate on. I mean, really....
    Some people just aren't happy unless they have something to complain about.

  15. #15

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    Re: Thoughts on Duffy Marketing in the USA

    I guess. But I really don't see how the message and heart of Stitch's stories could be seen as "not Disney,"

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