Disney auditions in theme park to promote ABC shows

LOS ANGELES: This is an excellent example of a media conglomerate using its bread-and-butter property to cross-promote a struggling enterprise.

Last year, to shore up ratings for ABC's new shows, the broadcaster's parent Walt Disney used units such as the California Adventure theme park to generate excitement about its content. Now, Disney is looking to take things to the next level by focussing on ABCs reality-oriented content.

California Adventure, opposite Disneyland in Los Angeles-area Anaheim, California, will host the ABC promotion on 6 and 7 September. Disney will hold auditions for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette,which will have randomly selected guests acting out scenes from upcoming episodes with the actual actors.

The strategy is all about programme sampling. Disney state that this is a very targeted and proven entertainment marketing technique, to get people to see what you are talking about. This year's cross-promotional event also involves other Disney divisions, including the cable and radio networks, online unit and publishing arm.

Separate season-launch initiatives include cross-promotions on ESPN as well as in DVD trailers.

Last year, fans saw special screenings and met some of the series' stars like Alias' Jennifer Garner who hung out in the company of Mickey Mouse, a report in Hollywood Reporter stated. In India, the show airs on AXN. For Disney, the payoff was an estimated $8 million in free publicity from the national and regional television, radio and print coverage of the two-day ABC Primetime Preview Weekend.

Reuters, meanwhile, states that one of Disney's recent cross-promotional successes has been with the Johnny Depp summer film Pirates of the Caribbean. The film was based on a Disneyland theme park ride. In the past, Disney has used its parks to promote ESPN.

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