1011 – Euro Disney PR Project
Episode 1011 – Euro Disney PR Project
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Hey patrons, friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, my patrons; couldn’t do it without you even when I forget what I’m gonna say and I go all uhh on you. Thanks for the support. It’s time for Sleep With Me, the podcast you enable to put you to sleep and so many other people. Thanks, patrons.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake. It could be thoughts, things on your mind you’re thinking about from the past, the present, or the future. So, thoughts or thinking stuff, it could be feelings, anything coming up for you emotionally, physical sensations, it could be changes in time or temperature or routine.
It could be something else; situational, it could be something going on or it could be a mystery or just a frustrating mystery. Whatever’s keeping you awake, I’d like to take your mind off of that and distract you, keep you company so that you can fall asleep. What I propose to do is ideally you could…I can let…help…I don’t know. I’m doing something with my shoulders. I’m not slumping my shoulders, though if someone at a distance, like a stern person from my past…they’d say, are you slumping your shoulders? I’d say no, I’m getting…I’m leaning in. I’m getting comfortable, imagining I’m a listener in bed and I’m feeling a little bit more relaxed because Sleep With Me’s there to keep me company. Scoots is trying to create a safe place.
He’s trying to smooth it, he’s trying to pat it, he’s trying to rub it down and say safe place, and then he’s gonna send his voice across the deep, dark night, use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents, which means yeah, his voice is a little bit different, his content and his tone is different, it doesn’t ever make sense or get to the point, he gets mixed up. Rarely does he talk…well, rarely’s the wrong way, but he talks in the third person, the fourth person, he tries to be one of those om…what’s that word? Omniscient or omniscient? Omniscient, I think it is. He suffers from the omission of omnission. Has that been used before? I don’t think I’ve used that in a podcast episode. I’ve used…I love when words go together and they don’t fit together. Imagine that.
Maybe that could be a story. I love stories like that, old omniscient and…omniscient and omnission. Oh, whoops; it’s omission and omniscient. Excuse me. Confused you once again. Oh, so confused. I thought, you know, it was…my brain omits stuff, omission. Sorry about that. It makes me want to say oh, well, what’s your mission? Oh, mission. An Ode to Missions by the character of Mission Impossible whose name…Ethan, but…by Ethan; fourth-grader. I saw that in my summer reading program. Little did I know, it was soon to be the leader of…whatever. An Ode to Missions. So, where was I? Oh, so if you’re new, welcome. Glad you’re here. This podcast is very different. The reason it exists is because you deserve a good night’s sleep.
Now, this podcast may not unfortunately be able to provide that for you, but I’m gonna give you some information about that coming up here. But really, the reason I make the show; you do deserve a good night’s sleep. Our world would be such a better place if you get the rest you need, ‘cause your world will be a better place. I also make the show because I know how it feels. I’ve been there tossing, turning, mind racing, trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep. I know…I’ve been there. So, that’s why I make the show. Other things that new listeners need to know is…or could know; you may…hopefully you’re already barely listening to me, but this is a podcast that doesn’t work for everybody, but it does take a few tries to get used to.
It…because you say wait a second, does that guy not know the difference between…can he not even…his brain can’t even determine when he’s trying to speak; the difference between omniscient and omission, and I’m wishing someone could cure my confused condition, and…that would be the omniscient narrator. Has any character ever said that? ‘Cause that would actually fit. I could use some…someone omicient or omniscient. I forgot. Is it omniscient? It’s omniscient, right? I do have dyslexia, just so anybody’s like, is this guy…why is he doing this? That’s a normal reaction for a new listener. As soon as you don’t take me seriously…you know I’m serious about my goofing around, but that takes a couple times to get used to.
So, that’s what most listeners say, regular listeners, people that listen 300, 400 nights a year or 300, 400 episodes a year. They say man, at first I didn’t like the show ‘cause it just got on my…you know, nerves. It was…you were just prattling on and on and on. Then some part of me was like indeed, that is what he’s doing. He’s…there is a mission to…his omission of sensibility. Omission, right? That’s the right word. So…oh, so you may not like the show. It’s also a podcast you don’t really listen to. You just kinda barely listen. That also takes some getting used to. You say okay, I’m just supposed to kinda pay attention to the show. ‘Cause yeah, this podcast does not really put you to sleep, either. I’m here to keep you company while you fall asleep, which is different, right? I’m here to take your mind off of stuff.
If you can’t sleep, I’m here to be here as long as you’re awake or if you’re awake the whole night, episode after episode, I’ll be here talking to you, a friendly voice in the deep, dark night, you know? ‘Cause there is one thing I kinda was joking about, this narration stuff, but I always have a lot of internal narration going on, or commentary, and there is one of those voices, and it’s like…thinks it’s omniscient but it…we know it’s omitting a lot of the truth and it’s just commenting on the past, present, future, or other stuff while you’re trying to fall asleep. Oh, what does that have to do with…? Oh, so this…but this is a podcast you just barely listen to. Oh, it doesn’t really put you to sleep. I’m here to keep you company while you drift off. So, those are two things. What else?
Oh, the structure of the show can really throw people off as well, so let me tell you about that. So, the show starts off with a greeting; friends beyond the binary, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls so you feel welcome and seen. You say okay, this is a place I could see myself walking into, checking it out. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. That’s the greeting, then there’s support for the listeners…more ongoing listeners. So if you’re new, you say oh, okay. Resources for listeners, resources to support the communities around the show and that we live in and exist in, and then there’s support for the show so it can be free and out twice a week. That’s our goal there.
Then there’s the intro which goes from, I don’t know, minute six or minute eight or so and just goes on and on and on for about twelve to twenty minutes, and that a lot…either the business and the support can throw people off or the intro, and sometimes people think it’s the same thing, but the intro’s a really…a show within a show and it’s designed so that it’s adaptable, right? Some people fall asleep during it, some people skip it, some people don’t listen to it; they listen to story-only episodes on Patreon or they build their own playlists of what they like to listen to, but most listeners, the intro serves as a chance for you to wind down and get ready for bed which is pretty aligned with a lot of the thinking around getting…developing a good habit around bedtime. It’s kinda built in to work with that.
What I’ve seen work for me and other listeners; having some wind-down time to give you some distance from the day so that you’re not falling asleep right away. You could, and if you do, that’s great, but the intro’s designed to ease you into bedtime, but to be different every time so that that omniscient part of you or faux omniscient, I guess I would say…really, you’re gonna be…it’s not really gonna be embarrassing if I’m misusing…mispronouncing that word, because I know I do that all the time. I actually feel bad for people when they mispronounce words and they say omniscient or omniscient or whatever. [00:10:00] Omniscient. The old omniscient narrator. You say Scoots, that’s how we pronounce it. I say oh, okay. But what was I saying?
Oh, well, once that narrator gets going in your brain…I don’t know. It can…what’s the…structure of the show…I don’t know. The intro is there to…oh, it’s to be different every time to kinda trick that part of you ‘cause otherwise it would just kinda make a running commentary on a repetitive intro. This way, the intro’s different every time so you kinda have something to just barely listen to if you’re doing some sort of pre-bed relaxing thing or you’re in bed. You say oh, Scoots is…once again, I didn’t think it would be that word that would mix Scoots up, or set of words, but they’re mixing him up just like normal. So, that’s the intro, then there’s business between the intro and the story. That’s just where some of the sponsors like their business, and that’s before the bedtime story part of the show starts.
Then there’s a bedtime story. To be honest, I don’t even…not sure what it’s gonna be. It might be…yeah, I don’t know what this story’s gonna be, but you’ll know when you’re…or you might…maybe by the title, or maybe you’ll be sleeping, or maybe you’ll be relaxing. Then there’s thank-yous at the end, so that’s the structure of the show. That’s kinda why I make the show, and I think that’s it. I’m really glad you’re here. I really appreciate you checking the podcast out. I really work hard and I…there’s a lot of work that goes in the show because like I said, your sleep is important and you’re important. So, thanks again for coming by, and I really hope we can help you fall asleep. Here’s a couple ways I’m able to do it for you for free twice a week.
Alright everybody, we are in for a treat here. This is something I’ve been looking for. There’s three pieces of writing I did as a student over the years that I was interested in seeing again, and this is…the date on this is actually shocking to me though, because I didn’t realize what year I did this paper. But that’s interesting. Makes more sense with some of the story I’m gonna tell you behind it. This is one of three pieces of writing I was really excited to find in a recent trip home where I’m trying to clean out some stuff I have to my childhood home. One of them…I don’t think there was ever a hard copy of it, and the other one I think I found also…a copy of, but there’s one that’s still out there missing that I have hopes of finding. Then there’s other ones I probably won’t ever find.
This is the longest one, so it’s actually perfect for a episode of Sleep With Me. It was written for a university class I took in Public Relations, and I don’t know if it went towards my…I don’t think it did; I think I…this was where I went to the…I was attending the Liberal Arts school at…Fordham University’s where I went to school, but they also had a College of Business Administration, and I think I was able to take an elective there ‘cause I just said…I don’t…knew anything about public relations. The professor was Professor Corbin. I guess I’ll…I won’t…unfortunately, Professor Corbin, I have nice things to say about you, but I won’t be able to look up what you did next. This was a night class.
It was a once-a-week class which I actually really liked, like a three-hour class once a week, because I liked to not go to class on Fridays. So, these night classes…and I didn’t like getting up early. So, this probably went from like, 6:00 to 9:00 PM or 7:00 to 10:00 PM. I took it my…the fall of my junior year which makes sense, ‘cause I can picture it being dark outside going to and from class. It was…so, this was…I may be combining two sets of memories ‘cause I also took a night class I think from the same College of Business Administration on public speaking. But this was a very loose class. Professor Corbin I think was in…was not a…was…I don’t know what you call it ‘cause I don’t know anything about how it works to be a college professor or to teach at a college, but my assumption, even as a student at the time…so, I could be making an A double S outta me, Professor Corbin, and you.
But that…because it was a night class, Professor Corbin was a professional somewhere else and teaching because of the love of teaching or as another opportunity. I don’t know…I can only be projecting my own values onto Professor Corbin, but that this was not…Professor Corbin was not a full-time professor, I guess is what I’m saying. I don’t know if Professor Corbin worked in public relations. I probably wasn’t listening during that part. But there’s a couple things I remember about this class. One, it was very loose, so he basically said you could start working on this now. You’re gonna have to do a twenty-five or thirty-page paper, and that’s gonna make up the majority of your grade. If you get a good grade on the paper, you won’t even have to take the final exam.
I think the only other part of our grade…maybe there was one or two other tests; was class participation. That was pretty much it, and I’m not sure…I’m pretty sure but I’m not 100% sure if we would…we were able to…one part of the participation was every class you could present something from the newspaper…I think from either The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times about public relations or anything of interest to you, but that may have been the public speaking class, ‘cause that would make more sense in the public speaking class as well. But the way Professor Corbin presented it to us was like, your…the majority of your grade is gonna be a paper. You can write your paper about anything about a public relations plan…of a specific public relations plan. You had to have…cite everything.
It had to…it couldn’t be made up, like I used to do when I was in grammar grade school when I made up a whole paper on a book I didn’t read. The teacher figured it out pretty easily. So, this one, I was kind of excited and worried about it because it was…I like open-ended stuff, but the idea of writing a twenty-five or thirty-page paper with…I’ve never been good at writing. It’s funny that I do a sleep podcast that goes on and on and on, but I always had trouble. One of the things I had trouble with was certain college papers because I wasn’t good at superfluous language in papers. I could just get to the point. I said well, I don’t understand this character’s motivation or this, this, and this. I wasn’t always clear with my communication, either.
But I could….I wasn’t good with filler ‘cause I said well, if this is the point, then that’s the point. Also my dyslexia, but this idea was like okay, how am I gonna find something that fills up twenty-five pages that I’m interested in? Then I think that was Professor Corbin’s advice; just make sure you’re interested in it. So, I wrote this paper and what I was lucky to do…lucky enough to do…and I don’t know how I realized this. Maybe one of my roommates; one of my roommates, Terry, was also taking this class, and so…because Fordham also had a law school. This was before wide…the whole internet. That’s the back…so, we had access…we…if you logged in, I think you could only use it for an hour at at time. There was this Lexus, Nexus database that would search almost everything printed or something.
I can’t remember. Someone had told me about it, but you…it was very expensive at the time for the school or something, so it was limited usage by students, and…but once I got access to that thing…and then it’s interesting that I worked at a library later on where we had all these amazing databases now that you can use as a student of any grade or a…if you go to your local library, talk to the librarians about the databases. Holy moly. If I could pronounce bouillon and then actually remember any of it, I’d do that, but I don’t speak…I should speak it but I don’t. Or Bouillon. You know, I speak bouillon and bouillon, but anyway, that’s just a inside joke at my entry-level librarian skills. So, that’s one part of it; it was just like, actually something I actually enjoyed doing, and then the subject matter, if you’re a Sleep With Me listener.
So, I’m gonna read through the paper in a second, here. I just got a couple more points to make. I don’t know how many pages it is. I do have…let’s see, actually. I can look. It looks like it’s twenty pages and then the bibliography, so I guess it only had to be twenty pages, not twenty-five or thirty, or maybe I just had…now, I did…spoiler; I got an A on it. It says final grade, A. Excused from the exam. Congratulations. Excellent. Good research. Most interesting. I don’t want to brag, but this paper was…and you say huh, I…and I did explain this to various students over the next three semesters that would come to me and try to buy this paper from me ‘cause they were taking that class and they would even come early in the semester. They’d be like hey, did you…you’re the one with that paper.
Now, now, I’m not the only one that got an A. [00:20:00] My roommate got an A. I guess I was a person…I never sold any papers, but I guess that was my personality type, was that people were comfortable asking me for a paper. But I tried to explain to them, the different people who would try to purchase the paper, and I guess probably I’d say oh, you’re in that class, you had that…oh yeah, did you…how’d you do it? What’d you get on your…? It was just a…if you were taking this class, I guess it was a topic of conversation. But I would say there’s no way you could buy the paper because it’s so specific. I guess people that are in a position where they want to buy a paper, they don’t hear that. I say, it’s not like you could just change it around. I always said I really enjoyed making that paper.
I’m happy to walk you through the process. This is where I…I’m just not a teaching personality or able to sell it, either. Maybe it’s just some of my insecurities and introversion, too, or maybe I just didn’t go the extra step to say I’ll show you how to make a paper yourself. This happens a lot with podcasting too, where I say yeah, I could kinda give you the steps that I took. With this Lexus, the Nexus database at the time, I said if I had discovered it two years earlier, I don’t know. Just having…I mean, this is where I love databases. Just being able to search and use search terms for something very specific, which you’re gonna hear about, that’s kind of an…it really is; it’s an adventure of its own. I mean, very similar to what I like about the podcast; well, is it possible? Is it possible for me to find this information?
Is it possible for me to take something I’m interested in…’cause one of my failings due to fear was not making the most of my…all my educational opportunities. Particularly, I had two roommates…I don’t know if both of them did this, but you had your ability to create your own major, and I remember them telling me about it maybe sophomore year; oh, we’re gonna make our own major based on this, ‘cause they don’t offer a major in that. I thought at the time; well, I have this great interest in film and entertainment and communications which was my major, but I also have a interest in theme parks and stuff. But then I said oh, I’m too afraid. I don’t want to go talk to the authority figures and figure all that out.
It sounds too…you know, but this paper kinda represented my foray into it, and…so, this paper’s about…because I said the only way I’m gonna be able to fill up twenty to twenty-five pages legitimately is if it’s something that really calls to me. Even at the time, I found the operations of theme parks fascinating. I don’t remember how I found this particular…I mean, this was a big deal, as you’ll hear about, but I was like, I probably had to narrow it down a couple times until I got to this, and even this one, it got kinda tough ‘cause it wasn’t like there was a ton of articles or pieces about it. So, I guess without further ado, let’s get into it. This paper was by Andrew Ackerman for Professor Corbin, Public Relations. The title of the paper is Euro Disney and Public Relations Planning. That’s bolded and underlined.
I’ll…guess I’ll read…I don’t know if I’ll add any expository thoughts, but this is the first time we’ve been…read through something. I know people like the reading sometimes. So, the steps in the public relations process seems simple and clear. So, this is actually interesting; I’m already expos…but this will be a learning opportunity for me from a younger me. Get information, formulate a plan, institute that plan, and finally, evaluate the plan. Not only is each step essential to a public relations project, but unfortunately each step is complex and problem-filled. If any step in the process is not executed properly, then your plan will not work. Even if every other step is administered to perfection, a small discrepancy in one part will cause disaster.
I guess I was who I was then who I am now, because you could see my real me leaking through, even though this is supposed to be the opening, whatever, paragraph of this thing, and kinda how I view the world. That’s good; that’s okay. The fact that the public relations process is important and has many pitfalls makes it crucial to any corporate project. Undertaking any venture without concentrating on the public relations environment is not a good idea. So, this again, you can feel me kinda filling pages, so I think I probably wrote this at the end. A company will not fare well if it ignores or does not give proper attention to this process. Another inescapable reality is that no matter how much you research and prepare, unforeseeable problems will arise.
I could probably buy this paper and use it as part…the opening chapters of my autobiography and just replace ‘public relations’ with any sub…replace with any subject matter here. I said well, maybe my…I might have been more of who I was then. Even a company that has an excellent public relations history can still fall victim to a serious PR calamity. This thesis is best exemplified by the much-publicized corporate catastrophe — oh boy, I got some good alliteration in there — Euro Disney. This theme park has been making headlines for the past three years. The Walt Disney Corporation that has had a history of good relations with the press has been highly criticized over this endeavor. Many critics have enjoyed finally witnessing a major blunder by Disney.
I think they probably…I read that book by Carl Hiaasen, so I don’t know where this fits in in some of the other ones that I was less aware of at the time of writing this paper. Maybe not. The fact that a strong company like Disney which has enjoyed major successes in the past decade can have its public image so scarred shows the importance of each of the four steps in the public relations process. So hopefully that was a big part of the teaching, was explaining or showing the four steps, or maybe that was the assignment. Although economics and culture were also contributing factors to Euro Disney’s problems, public relations played a major role. By analyzing the procedure Disney used in the public relations process, it will reinforce the significant of each step as I discussed earlier.
The approach Disney took when they got feedback from their first PR plan and how they readjusted their strategy is also very enlightening. By focusing on each step individually, any major errors made by the public relations staff will be revealed. There are two major mistakes I believe Disney made. The first was in the beginning of the PR process. Disney failed to get proper information surrounding their theme park. They collected information from the wrong sources. They important data were…so I should…the teacher corrected…I put they important data. It should be the important data. This data’s plural, the teacher’s pointing out. The important data was not hard…the important data were…I guess data points were not hard facts, but personal feelings and taste.
By basing their entire PR plan on poor findings, it was not as effective as it could have been. Disney was left flat on its feet because it was unprepared for the PR problems that would arise. This is an unfortunate outcome because many parts of their PR plan were inventive and interesting and would have been far more productive if based on the proper information. Another error Disney made was failing to realize that a public relations blitz before the opening of a theme park will not always make it financially successful. The results of this information problem and its effects on the PR plan are examples that everyone can learn from. So again, I guess in that opening thing, you kinda see that…I don’t know, I’m not always…I said okay, look on one…I’m not the glass-half-full or half-empty person, as I said in another intro.
I’m the glass-that’s-already-broken person. But also, I see in a respectful way…like okay, my communication’s always been…it’s always hard for me to communicate in the written…communicate in general, but in the written word, even. So yeah, writing these papers, the fact that I could even write it, I’m kinda proud of myself ‘cause I say wow, this definitely is a struggle for you to get across your ideas. ‘Cause it’s like oh, you clearly have some good ideas here, but…and some good points, but your communicating of it is not…it’s just…[00:30:00] this is where you say well, you’re better off working in a team, which is not possible in…I mean, for this project. But anyway, so step one — this is bolded and underlined — getting information. Data was collected from a multitude of sources before the planning of Euro Disney.
Much of this information used seems perfectly reliable to anyone with common sense. That’s a interesting point there, Scoots. The location was carefully chosen because of its accessibility to all of Europe. France has over 43,844,000 tourists a year. I guess we didn’t have to cite our facts; we just have to use a bibliography. The population of France was approximately 56,615,155. I guess maybe ‘according to’ would have been better, but I also would have used more space, like in the most recent census. A theme park just ten minutes away from the capital in the most popular city…so then it’s like okay, if I had somebody read this first, they could have said you could have filled up more talking about France or Paris and the train lines. We definitely received some spillover.
There are many theme parks in Europe but none are competitors of this magnitude. Most are modeled after old-style carnivals. When the TGV Tunnel under the English Channel is completed, Euro Disney will have its own trace…train station. It could use a year there, though. It will be a three-hour and fifteen-minute ride from England. I’d also like some more details there; where in England? I could go back in time and…said well, listen, I got an A. No, I just…for curiosity’s sake, I guess. Disney also operates or has investments in three other major theme parks; Walt Disney World in Orlando, Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. These are major revenue-earners for the company. While the attendance numbers of the park are kept confidential, they are popular and highly successful.
Over 20% of the guests of Walt Disney World in Florida are visitors from Europe. After reviewing the history of Disney’s other parks, who would doubt that a fourth one in Central Europe would not do as well? Disney has also enjoyed the tremendous success of its animated motion pictures in France and all of Europe. In 1989, Disney finished second overseas with box office receipts totaling over 445 million dollars. Merchandise related to Disney is also extremely successful. In 1991, their sales overseas doubled. From where? I guess I could say hey, it could use some more information. A quote, “American-styled” unquote, companies also enjoyed success in France in the late 1980s. McDonalds, for example, is one of the most successful US companies in France.
Here, the professor underlined and wrote ‘often using local franchise holders who know their markets well.’ In 1991, that company operated over 200 profitable restaurants similar to their American counterparts throughout France. American music and motion pictures are also highly popular. Euro Disney will add over 14,000 jobs to the area. The overall economic impact is expected to be extremely positive as the result of taxes, related development and spending, and a rise in the value of surrounding real estate. These factors create the perception that the French climate would respond favorably to an American theme park. So, it seems like a little bit of a…this is also…could have used a little more…I could have taken up more space, and…so, maybe I trimmed it back, but I don’t think I did.
But maybe there was a rule; it couldn’t be over a certain number of pages. Okay, so step two in the public relations process, bolded and underlined; create a plan. Disney is a company well-known for thorough, long-term plans involving their theme parks. These plans are precise and detailed but also flexible. Euro Disney is not an exception to this rule. The plans for Euro Disney were well-designed and public relations received major attention. The creation of a quality public relations program was a high priority. People with experience in running major public relations ventured were given…ventures were given top positions in the Euro Disney management. Robert Fitzpatrick was elected to be chairman of Euro Disney.
Fitzpatrick is an expert in using glitz and glamour to attract astounding amounts of publicity. He ran the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Having him as chairman meant the PR plan would receive the attention it deserved. The name power of Walt…the Walt Disney Corporation, one of the largest and most popular companies in the world, also brings plenty of free publicity. These two factors alone already create a positive environment to design a PR plan in. I don’t know what the first factor is; Fitzpatrick or the positive economic impacts, Scoots. The basic audience that the PR staff of Euro Disney had hoped to reach was large and widespread. European families with middle to upper-middle-class income willing to spend more than one day were the most important customers.
The Washington Times in February 16th, 1992 said about the park’s future patrons, quote, “All children are born with the Mickey gene. In fact, the Disney characters and their gentle mythology have become part of the childhood experiences in most cultures.” Unquote. By enticing the children’s parents’ wallet…by enticing the children, their parents’ wallet will become interested as well. Not all PR actions were aimed at children alone. The majority had universal appeal in order to get the whole family’s attention. Tourists visiting Paris were also a major audience for Euro Disney. Part of the planning process involved contacting travel agencies around the world and requesting to include Euro Disney information on packages when discussing visits to France with their clientele.
Residents of Paris and the surrounding countryside planning day trips were another audience considered during the first PR planning for Euro Disney. It was hoped that all the major publicity surrounding the park would attract their interest. With these groups in mind, Euro Disney set a goal of attracting 11 million visitors by their first anniversary. Their aim was to have half of their visitors French and half from other European countries, especially the UK, Germany, and Spain. The first part of the PR plan was the park itself. A theme park unparalleled on the continent was designed. Their selection was twenty…selected location was twenty miles east of Paris off a major highway on over 5,000 acres. This would be the large…second-largest civil engineering project in Europe ever. I’d like to know what the first was.
Phase one, including the first theme park, would take three years…three and a half years. Further developments and expansions have been planned all the way to 2017. The theme park includes thirty attractions, six hotels — wow, I didn’t know there were six hotels — with 5,200 rooms, an entertainment center, a campground — really? — and a eighteen-hole golf course. One day I’d like to check this place out. There will also be plenty of restaurants and shops. Themes featured in the park will be dominantly American. Most of the hotels, restaurants, and some attractions will represent major eras in American history. For example, there’s New York Hotel, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Camp Davy Crockett. Most workers and signs will be multilingual.
More intricate styling will be used in both architecture and costumes to appeal to a more European taste. Employees called cast members by Disney will have to meet their strict dress code standards including no hair or…no facial hair or excessive makeup. Glad they got rid of that, Disney. Cast members will also be required to take hospitality classes to perfect their smiles and have good days. I also see a lot of…I put have a good days. The park and its employees will be an important component to the PR plan. Positive publicity from the media and word-of-mouth from visitors will come as the result of a well-run theme park. The second part of the PR plan was through investors and sponsors.
Companies like Renault, Banque Nationale de Paris, Europcar, and Kodak paid to become official sponsors of Euro Disney in exchange for placements of their logos and products in the park. In addition, these companies would [00:40:00] hold contests associated with Euro Disney and/or mention their sponsorship on products and ads. Other PR plans included Seine-et-Marne, one of the townships near Euro Disney and Orlando, becoming sister cities. A press release was sent to major media in France and America announcing the ceremony for the sistership in October, 1991, more than a year before opening day. Another part of the plan included sending one ticket to Euro Disney to every shareholder in the Walt Disney company.
My mother, who was a shareholder, received a ticket and her reaction was to ask anyone traveling to France if they wanted it. This one ticket created a word-of-mouth chain that immediately raised awareness about Euro Disney. I like that. I wonder if she still has it. Another benefit was that anyone traveling with their family would have to purchase additional tickets. Plans included building a seventy-foot high replica of Sleeping Beauty’s castle which is the park’s signature attraction, and driving it from city to city in Europe. Euro Disney also decided to follow tradition carried by under…other Disney theme parks; am ambassador. This ambassador would be a cast member trained by the PR staff who would represent Euro Disney at public and official occasions.
The ambassador would also visit hospitals and schools escorted by Mickey to spread Euro Disney’s good will. Starting in December 1991, Euro Disney set up an information and reservations number that residents of sixteen European countries could call to reach multilingual workers. The number was included in advertisements, press releases, and brochures. During parade specials for Christmas and Easter from Disney’s other theme parks, previews at Euro Disney were included free of charge. A large amount of PR planning went into the events surrounding the opening of Euro Disney. The PR staff planned a two-day party preview for the park’s press and VIPs from around the world. Major celebrities from Europe and America were booked to perform.
A televised special to be broadcast from opening day was planned as well. Many special events included Disney characters and celebrities were planned for that day. The sheer magnitude of the park’s size, amount of workers, and name power would make the park newsworthy. Step three; implement the plan. While the…when…with the PR plan completed and approved, it was time to put it in motion. Construction of the first phase of the park using mostly contracted labor was completed on schedule in three and a half years. The finished product met all expectations of the planners. The theme park had five different lands; Main Street USA, Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland, each with its own attractions and rides. There are also six hotels. This is hilarious.
Well, I didn’t…I’m assuming this is US, but it’s so cheap that it’s mind-blowing. There’s six hotels ranging in price from $55 to $255 per night, twenty-nine restaurants…$255 a night is not what you would pay with tax US for the lowest-priced hotel room, I think, on property. I mean, I know you can get it cheaper, but…out the door. A championship golf course, tennis course, nighttime entertainment center, and campgrounds. Over 14,000 staff…cast members were hired and intensely trained at Disney University. Each member of the cast will be themed right down to the street sweepers and car attendants. The colors throughout the park are much brighter than its American counterparts to compensate for lower amounts of sunny days.
There will also be more covered areas, especially in the queues for the attractions because of the high precipitation rate in the French Basin. Trees, shrubbery, and other plant life from around the world will be abundant in the park, and nine months before opening day, a team of master chefs from around the world started perfecting the cuisine. They designed the menus for the restaurants after what French…the French perceive American food to be. In the months prior to opening, the corporations that are the official sponsor of Euro Disney did their best…did their part to hype this park. For example, Nestle held contests tied to the park’s opening and used its products to inform consumers about the park.
National Car Rental, another sponsor, held a sweepstakes unless…in which the grand prize was a trip for four to Euro Disney. Other sponsoring companies like Kodak, Coca-Cola, and IBM are — I put, but the teacher corrected me — also had promotions of varying intensity. All of this fanfare was arranged at no cost to Disney. The information reservation number was set up and received millions of calls. Seventeen tractor trailers brought the replica of Sleeping Beauty’s castle to twenty European capitals where it was erected in town squares. An ambassador was chosen from the cast members and immediately attended to their duties. The final and most important part of the PR plan involved publicity surrounding the opening of the park. This final push by the PR staff was a monumental task by itself.
The two days before opening day would be dedicated solely for the media. Tom Elrod, senior vice president of marketing for Walt Disney Attractions, said that thousands of media representatives were invited to attend, including reporters from a hundred television…European television stations, two hundred radio stations, and countless magazines and newspapers. Over 3.5 million was spent on parties, shows, and parades for this two-day event. The whole pre-opening jamboree — jamboree; I love that, Scoots — is…was one gigantic publicity stunt. To ensure that the gala goes off with a bang, countless European and…so, I couldn’t help put in a flourish, too, or maybe I was getting this from the paper.
A list of these American and European celebrities invited to perform; Cher, Tina Turner, Gloria Estefan, Jose Carreras, and The Four Tops. Wow. Just a few of the entertainers hired. Fireworks, balloons, and speeches were in abundance during the two-day extravaganza. A children’s chorus repeatedly performed It’s A Small World After All, a song from one of the most popular attractions at Disney’s other parks. Experts with multiple years of experience from Disney’s other theme parks were hand — but the teacher put ‘on’ ‘cause I forgot ‘on’ — on hand in case of any unexpected PR disasters. Their expertise also helped Euro Disney…the Euro Disney crew ease into their profession smoothly. On the night before the opening, Disney broadcast a live two-hour special.
This special appeared during prime time on major networks in France, the UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy. It was also sent via satellite to fifteen other European countries. Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith hosted this special. Many of Europe’s most popular television personalities also participated in the broadcast. I’m just laughing that…what year was this? 1992, I think? Members of the media were not…that were not invited to attend were sent press packets detailing Euro Disney in depth. This final PR push by Euro Disney received plenty of publicity because it was executed without any major problems. As a result, Euro Disney was mentioned, featured, or reviewed in every venue of major European and American media in the weeks surrounding the opening.
The careful planning and experience of the PR staff helped to make the opening of Euro Disney successful. All the parts of their plan culminated with this one event. Though the PR plan effectively raised positive awareness of the park in its opening, it neither guaranteed the prosperity of the park nor its public image. Next up is…looks like something I just inserted here. The seven seas of communication. These seven steps of communication are a good way to summarize Euro Disney’s PR plan. So, these are the seven seas; credibility. Disney used the history of its company and theme parks to establish credibility. Context; the positive effects of the park on France’s economy attempted to create a supportive social environment.
Content; the quality and size of the park and the success of the Disney corporation was the major content. Clarity; message about the park and PR actions were simple and direct. Continuity and consistency; attraction to the parks were being constantly repeated. Channels; major media and word-of-mouth were used most. Capability of the audience; Disney used their channels in many different styles. Okay, so step four; evaluate the plan. From the outside of [00:50:00] Euro Disney, especially in the public relations department, there was a constant influx of information. At the beginning — comma that I missed; the teacher pointed out — the majority of reports about the park were positive while critics stood in the minority. After opening day, the tide swiftly turned in the opposite direction.
Some of their information sources were turning in more and more critical news. By the end of 1993, just over a year after opening day, the park was dubbed a “Euro Disaster” by most of the main…that was in quotes…by most of the mainstream media in France and America. Late-night talk show hosts had a field day poking fun at Euro Disney’s problems. This would have been a interesting place nowadays because you could actually use YouTube or something, or maybe even a database to back that up and even hyperlink, ‘cause it would have been good to have some examples of the jokes and stuff. The PR staff now had to disseminate what information was the result of or important to the plan they had just executed. Then they would have to take what they had learned and apply it to another plan.
The plan needed to address and correct the problems of their previous plan. Attendance figures for the first year gave them an important start. Overall attendance at 10.5 million was not far below their goal of 11 million, but the major problem was the number of French visitors was extremely low, accounting for only 30% of the total. Here’s some commentary; the fact that the residents of the home country of the park attending in such low numbers is ludicrous. Finding the numbers of this problem were of utmost important to the PR staff. The cumulative effect of the negative publicity was severely underestimated. There have been many influential French citizens upset at the effects Euro Disney was having on their culture.
Many of the complaints were based on the amount of Americana used in the park. The fact that American flags and the scenes from American history are found throughout the park do not help their argument. I guess Disney’s argument. The French government publicly complained about Disney’s decision to retain English names for most of the attractions. French representatives pointed to a 1987 agreement between their government and Disney to use French prominently throughout the park. Euro Disney officials respond to this by explaining that some of their names are closely related to other theme…Disney theme parks and cannot be translated.
Critics using these facts attempted to create a hostile relationship between the French and Euro Disney by portraying Disney as invaders and destroyers of their culture. Bad publicity was not the only problem that plagued Euro Disney. Word-of-mouth was not positive, either. Long lines and waiting times for attractions did not please visitors. High prices for food and merchandise were not popular as well. When visitors spread these problems by word-of-mouth, many potential attendants were turned off. People who heard these rumors but came anyway were the source of another problem because they came prepared. There were people who knew about the high prices of food and wanted to avoid paying them, so they brought their own.
Euro Disney does not allow visitors to bring food into the park, so many people would tailgate quote, unquote, “in the parking lots to fill up on food before going in the park.” Once they entered the park, people avoided spending money on merchandise in a similar way. This is smart stuff. Instead of purchasing high-priced t-shirts, dolls…this is what’s actually probably gonna happen to the current Disney regime in the United States. They could probably use this report. Instead of purchasing the high-priced t-shirts, dolls, and toys, they purchased whatever was on sale. In the first year, the average visitor spent half inside the park of what Disney…Euro Disney had expected. Another problem was encountered because of Euro Disney’s no-alcohol policy. Restaurants and stands do not serve any alcohol.
The only place it is available is certain themed bars in the hotels. This was, yeah, this was ludicrous. I mean, this is my commentary, but I’m glad Disney got over this even though I don’t drink. Europeans who usually drink wine or some other form of alcohol with a meal were personally offended. That could use a kinda backing-up fact, Scoots. These individuals felt that Disney was attacking a traditional social moray for no specific reason. Complaints like those gave critics even more evidence for their theory of Euro Disney as as cultural destroyer. Problems were also encountered with labor unions because cast members were forced to conform to the quote, “Disney look”, unquote. Euro employees were not allowed to have any facial hair or ostentatious jewelry. Eyeliner and eyeshadow were also prohibitive.
Conservative hairstyles and suitable undergarments were also a requirement. Yeah, this is…I’m glad they grew out of this, too. Euro unions and employees complained that this was an infringement of their personal rights. Disney said that it was their right as an employer to have these requirements. Yeah, this used to be the way they…and they could easily find workers to fit them. Maybe when…I guess no commentary, Scoots, on the current company. There were public threats made of major protests that luckily for Disney never occurred. Euro Disney also had other well-publicized…publicized labor problems before the opening of the park. Contract firms complained they had not been paid for cost overruns.
This received some media attention because contractors threatened to not finish the park or disrupt the opening by blocking entrances. French farmers were also upset with Euro Disney, and in July of 1992, five hundred farm workers blocked the gates to the park. They were protesting the building of the park on valuable agricultural land and against US pressure for European agricultural reforms. The French government also disproved of Euro Disney’s labor policies. They were angry because Euro Disney had promised to supply 18,000 jobs, but the actual number of jobs was well below that. French officials also disproved of use…the use of mainly contracted labor for construction of the parks. These two complaints received much new scrutiny in France.
The unanticipated problems hurt the image of the Euro Disney park. Negative publicity drove away many customers. The fact that one of the most important public relations channels, publicity, was sending out the wrong message can be attributed to some failure during the PR process. Euro Disney made their mistake in the first step; they did not get the proper information. They based their entire PR plan on hard data and experience. It was foolish to think, quote, “this will not fail; it worked in Japan and America,” unquote. Disney had thought their experience was the only experience. Sounds like Ted Lasso. Ted Lasso just said something kinda the opposite of that about people. But anyway, in choosing the location, they depended too much on the numbers. Disney did not account for personal feelings or taste.
By failing to research the proper information, many unexpected problems arose. The PR plan they had implemented was not equipped or prepared to handle these challenges. At first, the PR staff was overly optimistic and thought the problems would disappear. Soon, the negative publicity was impossible to ignore. The PR team became action-based and to…and began to analyze the influx of negative reports. They were forced by necessity to create a new plan that adjusted to itself to the problems that were encountered. A new section, bold and underlined; adjusting with a new plan. The second plan would be based on the evaluations of the first plan. The first action Euro Disney took was to let Robert Fitzpatrick go.
While he did have experience in hyping one-time events, Robert Fitzpatrick was not a hardcore business man. That’s interesting. Philippe Bourguignon, a Frenchman, was brought in to replace Fitzpatrick. The decision not only brought in a French businessperson but also was PR-based. By bringing in a familiar and local quote, unquote, “French face,” critics of the American-managed system would in a small way be appeased. Others upset with Disney’s…Euro Disney’s later…labor problems would be happy that quote, “someone who understood them,” unquote, was now running the show. [01:00:00] Bourguignon and his new team went to work on the problems. His first suggestion was to continue expansion plans despite Euro Disney’s financial woes. This would serve to correct many of the PR problems.
By adding more attractions, the long lines would diminish somewhat. Visitors would be more likely to return again if there were new rides they had not seen. By adding more attractions, the long lines would diminish somewhat. Visitors would be more likely to return again if new rides…if there were new rides they had not seen. By building more attractions than could be seen in one day, some visitors would be forced to stay overnight in the hotels and spend twice as much on food. This plan had been…has been a hard sell because of the economic problems of Euro Disney. While the construction of some new attractions has been approved at this time, all major expansions have been put on hold. Instead, Euro Disney has aimed at first attraction more…attracting more French visitors.
For the holidays last year, any chump…child accompanied by a adult living in the Paris region would get free admission. Four thousand coupons for discounted admissions were also sent to homes in Paris. Four thousand. Almost 60% of visitors were French after these programs were initiated. Euro Disney also adjusted its rates for the parks and hotels from season to season. Prices will be lower during slower times of the year and higher at peak times. In response to criticisms of food prices, Euro Disney wild its select…wided…widened its selection and price ranges of menus. Less expensive merchandise is also being created to soothe those problems. Euro Disney is also trying to get more high-publicity conventions and conferences with ties to Europe.
The hope is that these conventions will bring their own positive publicity and word-of-mouth, and then that will be connected with the park. They recently hosted the European Rapid Chess Championship for the Young. Children from over thirty-six countries attended a three-day event. Good parts from the P…first PR plan were kept in place. The ambassador and corporate sponsors were two things that were retained. Benefits of Euro Disney’s…Euro Disney French…the French population have also been restressed. The PR team has become more open to criticism, using it as an information tool. They also have taken a more flexible approach at trying to accomplate…accomp…to…trying to anticipate problems and stay on their toes for surprises. Okay, and then I return to the seven seas of communication.
European…Euro Disney had to reanalyze their approach of the communications process because of their failures. Credibility; this had to be reestablished in all channels. Bringing in Bourguignon was the first step. Disney also stated they would not pull out of this venture. They released a statement in January 1993 saying this is a twenty-year project that takes time to mature. Context; the fact that the park is beneficial to France’s needs has to be restressed. People should also be reminded that this theme park has no rival on the continent. Content; Disney must re-enforce the park’s quality and financial benefits. Clarity; messages about Euro Disney need to be clear and concise. When dealing with the media, representatives should address issues in a calm, non-conflictual manner.
Continuity and consistency; channels are always being re-informed by the PR staff’s…staff about their efforts. Channels; Disney needs to adjust their message in the current channels they are using. New channels like mail-in coupons are also needed. Capability of the audience; each critical audience should be addressed individually. Their specific concerns should be taken care of. All of these provisions were reactions to unexpected problems that arose. These crises came about because of errors made by the team that collected the information the PR plan was based on. The lessons demonstrated by Euro Disney’s public relations setbacks are instructional in our study of the process. The investigation of a real plan at work in the field teaches many lessons not easily revealed in any textbook.
First, the PR process is not easy. Endless hours must be devoted to all the steps if you really want to accomplish your goals. One mistake in any part could botch up everything. When Euro Disney failed in the information process, their fan…plan lacked essential elements. They did not critique the information they received enough, because they thought it was totally reliable. Any gaps that were present, they figured their experience would resolve. Unfortunately, their information and experience were not enough to cover all the PR variables. Some problems would have been less likely to arise if Euro Disney had spent more time researching location and then preparing the residents for its construction. Many parts of their PR plan were things I would have never thought of and seem to be very effective.
Two ideas I found very innovative were the traveling castle and the ambassador. In summation, the most important lessons I learned from studying Euro Disney’s public relation work were one; you should spend as much time or more on researching your plan as planning it, and two, a good plan and decades of experience will not always create instant success. Three; unexpected problems will always arrive. That might be my life story. Here’s the bibliography. Bailey, Steven; In This Sterile Diorama, Life is But A Theme. That was from the International Herald Tribune, 1992. Board Room Shuffle; Financial Times Ltd. Investor’s Chronicle. That was 1993. Bray, Roger; Euro Disney Spends 50 Million on New Rides to Woo Tourists. That was from Associated Paper’s Evening Standard.
Carpenter, Richard; Euro Disney, the Boston Globe, 1992. Crumley, Bruce; Euro Disney’s Fragile Condition. Advertising Age, 1994. Cutlip, Scott; Effective Public Relations. That was from Apprentice Hall, 1994. Disney Woes; that was from Financial Times Investor’s Chronicle, 1993. Euro Disney Blues; The Financial Times Limited Investor’s Chronicle, 1994. Euro Disney Celebrates Its First Year; PR Newswire, 1993. Euro Disney Says Opening Date Will Be Met. That was from the Reuter Library Report, 1992. Euro Disney Waiting for a Dumbo. That was from The Economist in 1993. Karen Fawcett; Bonjour, Snow White. That was The Washington Times, 1992. Fox, Nicholas; Has Mickey Goofed? The Daily Telegraph, 1992. French Concerned About Names at the Park.
The Reuters Business Report, February 20th, 1990. Pone, Katherine; Euro Disney Finds Visitors Cut Prices Approach. The Irish Times, 1993. Powell, Nicholas; Spring Goes Out of Donald Duck’s Step. The Glasgow Herald, 1993. Rawsthorn, Alice; Castle in the Air Bumps Down to Earth. Financial Times, 1992. Rawsthorn, Alice; Euro Disney Plans Third French Leisure Complex. 1992; Financial Times. Stevley, David; Euro Disney Plans Spectacular Start. That was from April 1992. Thomson Says Euro Disney Brochure Was Off. Reuters Financial Report, 1993.
Vaughn, Vicky; Park’s Final Touches Include Huge Parties. Orlando Sentinel Tribune, 1992. View From the City Road; Facing Up to Reality in French Fantasy Land. The Independent, 1993. Maybe that was also from Vicky Vaughn. I’m not sure; it doesn’t have a author. So, that’s the paper I did a long time ago, but one of the few things I never…I haven’t re-read it since then, so it was interesting. Yeah, I hope you’re resting and dreaming of Euro Disney. Goodnight.
[END OF RECORDING]
- Omission of Omniscien
- Pre-Opening Jamboree
- Unexpected problems will always arrive
- Mission: Impossible
- Carl Hiaasen
- 1984 Olympics (Los Angeles)
Notable Talking Talking Points:
- What’s interesting enough to fill up that many pages?
- Most important factor – European upper-middle class families staying for more than one day
- French Farmers were upset