Arts & Leisure

SM, Disney ink partnership

Posted on September 08, 2015

THE SM GROUP has announced its “formal” partnership with the Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia as it bring the brand “closer to Filipinos through mall, retail, entertainment and amusement opportunities,” according to a company press release.

IT TOOK two years of asking after the release of the film Frozen for Disney to bring the main characters of the animated blockbuster to Toy Kingdom. Such problems are no longer expected as the SM-Disney deal will include sychronization between the two companies.
The partnership includes hosting branded events across the Disney portfolio including Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars, and the presence of exclusive merchandise through Toy Kingdom alongside other subsidiaries such as SM Lifestyle Entertainment, Inc. (SMLEI).

“There’s no minimum, there’s no maximum in terms of events. What we’ll basically do is before the year ends, we get to select already what sort of marketing activities we need to do for next year and we need to discuss it on how we can implement it in the Philippines,” said Edgar C. Tejerero, president of SMLEI, shortly before the event on Sept. 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

“[Events] are hooked on whatever titles will be released next year, in terms of movies and whatever retails items they [Disney] want to push for next year,” he added.

He explained further during the press conference that the major advantage of the partnership is the synchronization it will afford both companies as, Mr. Tejerero said, sometimes the merchandise come after the title has been released here and after the interest has waned -- a situation underscored by the recent Elsa and Anna (the main characters of the animated blockbuster Frozen) meet-and-greet event held from Aug. 28 to 30 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

“For the longest time since the movie came out, we’ve been asking Disney to bring Elsa and Anna [here]... it took two years for them to get here,” Perla P. Dastiles, AVP-Marketing of Toy Kingdom, told BusinessWorld during the event.

While not the most popular brand in Toy Kingdom, it is one of the more popular ones as Ms. Dastiles said that “people always look for Disney.”

She added that Toy Kingdom will be carrying Frozen merchandise until next year when the sequel comes out.

“The fans are strongest here in the Philippines,” said Rob Gilby, managing director of the Walt Disney Company SEA, when asked about the company’s efforts being focused in the Philippines.

“As we looked at markets around the world... I’ve got to say, I get very, very excited by the Philippines... there’s so much opportunity in the Philippines that we want to try and find ways to come to the Philippines,” he said during the Disney/SM partnership press conference.

Because of the partnership with SM, some have asked how this will affect other Disney-branded productions such as the annual Disney on Ice production held at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, but Mr. Gilby said, in a roundabout way, that the partnership with SM is not exclusive.

“We don’t think in terms of exclusivity, we think in terms of how broad our partnership is,” he said.

Disney on Ice as well as the recently concluded Disney Live! production which ran from Sept. 1-6 at the Araneta-run Kia Theater, also in Quezon City, are produced by Feld Entertainment, which does the shows under agreement with the Walt Disney Company.

As the opening salvo of this new partnership, SM and Disney will be launching a “Star Wars Galactic Christmas” to welcome the arrival of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens which will arrive in Philippine theaters on Dec. 17. The event will include “life-size figurines of characters from the movie, interactive games, and official merchandise from the SM Store and Toy Kingdom” according to the press release.

Mr. Tejerero also said that they are developing a mobile app which supplements the Disney experiences as one enters an SM mall, with the app showing the user which Disney film, merchandise, or activity is happening inside the mall. They are planning to release the app after “three to four months.” -- Zsarlene B. Chua