Head of Disney Russia shared secrets of storytelling business

15 July2017
Head of Disney Russia shared secrets of storytelling business

Marina Zhigalova-Ozkan, Head of Disney Russia, opened the fifth day of RANEPA Summer Campus, holding a lecture “Storytelling Business”. The lecturer graduated from Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO), the Department of International Economic Relations, and also from Harvard Business School. She has extensive experience in management and deep professional knowledge of the Russian media market. Over the years, she held managerial positions in major Russian corporations.

The lecturer began her speech with demonstration of localized Disney video, in which viewers could see the values of three key brands of the company: Disney, MARVEL and Star Wars.  

“Product is the basis of any business. For some companies these are tangible goods, for others it is service. For us, these are stories. Certainly, we are not the only ones for whom creating content is the key to business. But the uniqueness of Disney’s business model is that our stories live not only in movies, TV series and related licensing programs, but also thrive in a variety of business segments,” the speaker said, calling the company's business model a “vertically integrated storytelling”.

The lecturer spoke about the major segments of the company’s business and what monetization path a story passes at each of the stages. Among them are: film production, media and TV distribution, working with own TV-resources, creating consumer products through a licensed model, working with retailing, production of mobile games, setting shows, concerts and musicals and, of course, Disneyland parks.

Marina stressed that the market of digital platforms is growing very fast. Many years ago this work was identified as a strategic priority, and today it is clear that it was the right decision. Digital distribution almost replaced the physical one. The most successful digital releases of Disney for all the time in Russia were animated movies Frozen and Zootopia. Moreover, Zootopia is digital release No. 1 over the history of digital distribution in Russia. The business of mobile games is also developing, the gaming audience grows steadily: 6 million in Russia, 34 million in the United States, 48 million in China. Every day about 500 thousand people play Disney mobile games. In Russia, where about 800 new mobile games are produced each year, the company sees development opportunities.

A huge part of the company’s business is related to licensing of products. The company transfers the nonexclusive right to use images of characters to producers who create a wide variety of products with them: clothes, food, toys, stationary and so on. In Russia Disney is licensor No. 1. Each year nearly 15 thousand new product names with characters of Disney, MARVEL and Star Wars are produced in our country. The feature of Disney's work in Russia is its own creative team developing consumer products, which helps licensees at all stages of production. The development takes into account local tastes and demands of consumers and the most fashionable trends, helping the company’s partners find the best design solutions. The uniqueness of Disney is that the company does not only cooperate with manufacturers within the licensing model, but also actively works with retail partners. In Russia and CIS, Disney provides support to licensees in 12.5 thousand shops located in 300 cities and towns.

In Russia, Disney is not only engaged in film distribution, but also creates movies and TV series of own manufacture. It is the only country in the world other than America, where films are produced under the Disney brand. In 2009, The Book of Masters, the first Disney movie based on Russian folk tales, was made. It still remains the highest grossing children's feature film in the tale genre over the history of modern Russian cinema. Now, the production of the second Russian Disney movie The Last Bogatyr is coming to an end: it is made in the genre of comedy adventure and will come out on October 19, 2017.

At the conclusion of the lecture, Marina illustrated with several examples an integrated approach to support and monetization of stories in a variety of business segments, and where to draw inspiration to create and to find new business niches.

After the lecture, students bombarded the speaker with questions and did not let her go for a long time. When asked about Disneyland Park in Moscow, Marina said that to create a park of such level a number of conditions are required: weather, infrastructure, finances. From this perspective, the Moscow market is less attractive than China or America. From the point of view of other business segments, Russia has a huge potential and it is an important market for global Disney. 


Official site of RANEPA Summer Campus

The organizers of the Summer Campus of the Presidential Academy are the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan, the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia, with the support of the Group of Companies ACIG.

General information partner: Forbes. Strategic information partner: TASS. Main information partners: Lenta.Ru. Leading information partner – Chief regional information partner: Realnoe Vremya (Real Time). Regional information partner: Business Internet portal Information partner in the Republic of Tatarstan – News Agency “Tatar-inform”. Information partners of the Campus: STRBC Tatarstan, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Radio Svoboda, Expert Tatarstan, magazine Strategy, information and analytical portal, KAZANFIRST and RosBusinessConsulting Tatarstan (RBC Tatarstan).




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