Negative Disney Publicity Circa. 1989

There’s a fantastic post over on Cartoon Brew today that details the pitch material sent out by Disney in 1989 or thereabouts to various TV stations around the country who they hoped would air their afternoon block of shows in syndication.

The pages posted are great to read some 20 years after the fact. The present perhaps the worst aspect of some marketing departments: pointing out all the bad aspects of your competitors in the hope that no-one don’t notice your own.

The papers are full of non-comparisons and desriptions so vague, they barely even make sense. Here’s a sample quote:

Warner Brothers has the dubious task of competing with Disney’s superior aniamtion.

Boasting that your shows are better is nothing new, in fact it goes all the way back to the beginnings of entertainment, when you had to convince the public that your show was better than that of the guy next door. The difference here is that there is hardly, nay, anything in the material posted that says exactly, why, Disney’s shows are better.

OK, maybe they do get better ratings because they’re on in the afternoons, but they are also new shows, not re-runs of classics. Perhaps they’re more expensive to broadcast. That’s my best guess. “Disney crushes Alvin”, that’s comparing apples to oranges. You can’t expect to get parity among the results between individual shows and entire blocks.

Frankly, the entire thing has a whiff of dishonesty about it, as if Disney has something to hide about its shows. Content speaks for itself and if your shows really are as good as you say they are, then you should point out how much better they are than all these other, great, shows. Of course, this would prove to be the case with Tiny Toons, wich Disney calls “a pale comparison to the Disney Afternoon”. Hindsight is always 20/20, and the quality of Tiny Toons was all that Warner Bros. needed to prove that they were actually ahead of the game.

It would be really intersting to see the pitch booklets from the subsequent years. Did they contain similar language or was Disney left stuck for words? Either way, we know how things turned out in the end of the afternoon cartoon battles of the 1990s.

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