There is something strange going on in the corporate world. Anheuser-Busch continues to take a battering over their recent marketing decisions. Miller Light is being similarly savaged after they inexplicably surveyed the carnage and decided they should go down a similar route. Disney themselves lost over a quarter of a billion dollars on just two movies (Lightyear, Strange World) that featured content that ran counter to what the majority expects of their family entertainment. The age-old message of “Get woke, go broke” seemingly remains undefeated. So why aren’t corporations waking up? Instead, they are doubling down.
Is the nefarious power of DEI and ESG such that shareholders are expected to shut up and take it while supine boards commit corporate Hari-Kari to appease somebody else, off-stage?
It appears so. Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged that the LGBT-themed content produced for Disney+ did not result in a significant increase in subscriptions. In fact, all the data shows consumers turning away from the brand as the cost of living bites and they see a company out of step with their values. Iger said:
“As we grow the business in terms of the global footprint, we realized that we made a lot of content that is not necessarily driving sub growth and we’re getting much more surgical about what it is we make.”
Which is also a way of saying he now understands that other countries aren’t as lost as America just yet. Yet despite this, it seems other executives just aren’t singing from the same hymn sheet. Others are out there trumpeting a new arrangement. Disney Advertising recently signed development agreements with Group Black, United Masters, Cocina, and equalpride.
While some of these collaborations will focus on the amplification of racially diverse casts, others are to push more LGBTQ+ representation in video content. In an interview in Adweek, Disney Advertising’s Senior VP of Client Partnerships John Campbell said Disney is doing everything in its power to maintain their:
“…commitment to DEI” (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion).”
There is that phrase again. Why do you get the impression of a gun held to heads by somebody lurking unseen in the background?
According to the reports, even more LGBTQ+ characters will be taking over roles in classic film reboots, new shows, and films and there will be more diversity regardless of historical accuracy. In addition, Disney and equalpride will together generate both long-form content and a short-form miniseries that features LBGTQ+ characters and storylines. equalpride was founded in 2022 and is based in Los Angeles. According to their website and public information they are LGBTQA+ owned and operated with a portfolio that includes online brands such as OUT, The Advocate, Pride, Out Traveler, Plus, and the Advocate Channel.
Less than five percent of the world’s population identify as something other than heterosexual, but in America that number is now around 8% and climbing, with as many as 20% identifying as LGBT by the time you reach Gen Z. Is this Disney simply preparing for a future where around 1 in 4 American’s are openly non-heterosexual? Disney Advertising’s John Campbell says:
“We’ve been in the engagement business for 100 years at Disney. And we just want to make sure that we’re engaging with everybody authentically. And that’s really where these partnerships come to life.”
President of Global Growth & Development for equalpride, Michael Kelley, said:
“We’re not a monolith. We’re intersectional. I’m almost more excited about working with the folks that are on this call than I am with Disney, maybe equally, because we are going to be much much stronger together. Our qualitative research said that the queer community can identify the brands that don’t like us in unison, but they can’t name the brands in unison that support us. If I’m a CMO, if I’m a brand manager, I am going to absolutely drive a truck through that opportunity.”
Watch the share price with interest.
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