What Disney magic was this? After a presentation for clients and sellers recently in Chicago staged by ad-agency Starcom, the big player in the kid’s TV ad market, participants from Nickelodeon, Cartoon Net, Fox Box, Discovery Kids, The Kids’ WB, the Disney Channel and others headed to a reception at nearby Sullivan’s restaurant. Fortunately for Disney, the channel’s entertainment president Rich Ross is a fast walker. As he arrived, Mr. Ross realized there was a “giant billboard, big as a house” for the Lizzie Maguire movie, based on the Disney Channel’s “definitional” hit, directly across the street. “I literally jumped up and down,” he said. But inside, the thick wooden blinds were drawn, and the billboard wasn’t visible at all.
“They’re trying to create a mood,” he recalled, but when the bartender slipped out for a moment, Mr. Ross went to work. Up went the blinds, flooding the room with light and star Hilary Duff’s bright smile.
“Everyone came in and said, `Oh my god, how much did you pay for that billboard? That was such great strategic positioning!”’ And what a clever way to announce to the assembled ad community, and to the competition, that a Disney Channel original series had arrived on the big screen. So, replied Mr. Ross, “with a Cheshire cat smile, I said, `Yes, isn’t it?”’