Recently, while working on the DVD for the classic Disney movie Mary Poppins, actor Dick Van Dyke shared a story with me about Walt Disney’s creative vision. He and Julie Andrews were rehearsing the scene known as the “Jolly Holiday” sequence, where they were in a café with waiters, in what then was kind of a musical dream sequence. Walt had come by the sound stage to watch, and observed to the director that the waiters, clad in tuxedos, look “kind of like penguins.”
During the break Walt called them over and said, “I’ve got it, we need to do this scene with PENGUINS as waiters.” Of course, no one wanted to say no to Walt Disney, but the director had to let him know it would be impossible to get real penguins to choreograph this big musical scene. “No, not real penguins,” Walt explained, “ANIMATED penguins. Don’t you see? We will combine the live action with animation!”
Packaging is key
Create a consistent identity
As the quintessential fairy tale, it was important to reflect Cinderella’s magical tone and to communicate the most memorable moments on its packaging. Our choice for this package’s design centered on the distinction of the film within our great library. The universal tale, from which we derive the common saying “Cinderella story”, ultimately reflects a core value—dreams really do come true.
And our star, for which the film is named, is perhaps the most recognized Disney princess. So Cinderella—in her beautifully and magically transformed state, happily ever after with the handsome Prince—became our focal image. But the destination, and the journey to her transformation, was unique, and so the magical coach (formerly a pumpkin) and the beautifully lit castle play a prominent role in our image. Balancing out the fairy tale story are co-stars Gus and Jaq, Cinderella’s small heroes who give the film its sense of adventure that appeals to kids, especially boys.
The title treatment was also carefully constructed for image identity both with the key art and on all supporting consumer products and promotional product tie-ins. Nothing more distinguishes the story than the glass slipper, and this was incorporated as part of the title emblem (with a magical twist).
Define the right packaging
But this approach presented some significant challenges. At the time, no one had ever produced a tin DVD package, so it was necessary to break new ground within both retail and operational environments. I’m proud to say that these challenges were met with solutions reflected in our product, and the result has been successful waves of releases that have been well received by our target audience. It’s always fun to pioneer something new and exclusive, and this is an example of how “seeing with new eyes” means defining the right packaging.
Extend the experience
Our TV campaign amplified this new experience—where we featured this breakthrough way of extending the experience of the film inside our commercials. And in the print advertising, we used our strong key art image across all our retail displays and print advertising. This fully integrated approach is always a goal in our creative development and materials. The unique content of National Treasure, also allowed us to extend the experience far past the film and “make something out of” the experience for our audience.
One of the biggest growth areas in our industry has been TV on DVD products. We at Disney have been enjoying great success with some of TV’s top rated shows from our ABC division. One of our most successful consecutive, complete season box sets on DVD has been ALIAS. This thrilling show, which launched the career of Jennifer Garner and showcased the writing and directing talents of JJ Abrams, has provided us great opportunities for product expression. Since these box sets are centered on complete seasons, our goal in the packaging design is to focus on the main storyline that the audience has connected with. We developed a clear sleeve that, when slipped off, creates a “special” reveal to the show’s story lines and relationships. The consistent use of this packaging device, and differentiating color themes, has provided retail with a strong shelf read, and our loyal ALIAS fan base with collectable product. In this case—seeing with “new eyes” is what you see behind the slip sleeve!
On The Incredibles DVD our packaging sleeve employed a special foil effect that enhanced the value to a very broad demographic, as seeing with new eyes also means reaching all audiences. In addition the red color palette reinforced a strong presence at retail and assured that The Incredibles would have a consistent creative theme, regardless of the various retail environments.
With saturation levels of standard definition DVD reaching capacity and next-generation DVD on the horizon —offering consumers even more of a selection—it is imperative that we give our product a creative edge over that of our competitors.
I would like to leave you with this: the creative process, the journey—or, the real “voyage of discovery” as Marcel Proust has coined it, can be measured by the ability to see with new eyes in EVERY area of our creative endeavors. And like James Lowell has said, the ability to “make something out of (the idea) once it is found” ultimately will lead us to success and creative excellence from the inside out. BP
The author, Andy Siditsky, is Senior Vice President of Worldwide DVD Production and Creative Services for Walt Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment. He oversees the creative development and execution of DVD production, TV and print advertising, trailering, packaging, music video production and retail display design for videos and DVDs including the Disney, Touchstone and Miramax home entertainment releases.