Historical Analysis: Disney Post-Super Bowl Commercial

The famous post-Super Bowl television advertisement for Walt Disney World depicts a player from the winning team, usually the MVP, telling the camera that the first thing he is going to do after winning is go to Disney World. This commercial has been appearing on TV since 1987 and has retained the same format since then. This year’s ad features Malcolm Smith of the Seattle Seahawks.

Although this ad has been played for over 25 years and advertising has evolved since 1987, it is still successful. The overall mood of the ad is very happy, exciting, and uplifting. The cheering in the background, the music, and the disposition of the football player all contribute to this joyful feeling. The ad’s mood is very typical of modern advertising. These uplifting and motivating feelings in ads do not become prevalent until modern times. During the Depression, ads were very sensational and even wanted to scare the consumer. During World War II, the prominent themes of ads were patriotism and loyalty. The uplifting mood was also not very prominent in post-war ads.

The content in the Disney commercial, namely the celebrity endorsement and the setting, also contribute to its success in this day and age. Advertisements that include a cultural reference to which people can relate are not present until modern day. The Disney ad does a great job of including three elements that people recognize and respect: the Super Bowl, a famous athlete, and the song “When You Wish Upon a Star.” The Super Bowl is always one of the year’s most-watched programs on television, so it is very familiar and relatable. In this year’s version of the commercial, Malcolm Smith of the Seattle Seahawks is the star. Like every year, many people respect and look up to this athlete. The fact that he is endorsing Disney is great for the brand. In the ad, Idini Menzel, who voices Elsa in the new Disney film Frozen, sings “When You Wish Upon a Star.” The Frozen soundtrack is very popular right now and people who are familiar with the soundtrack will recognize Menzel’s voice and like the commercial that much more.

Finally, the Disney ad uses the condensed meaning technique. Because Disney is very ingrained into American culture already, most people know Walt Disney World and Disneyland. The commercial does not spend time explaining the product, how it will help the consumer, or why the consumer should purchase it (or in this case, visit it). It does not have the informational element that some other commercials have. It does, however, function as transformational. By showing a famous athlete on the field just after he has won the Super Bowl, it automatically gives Walt Disney World and Disneyland new meanings.  The ad now connects Disney with hard work, dedication, and success. These are all ideas with which we would not normally associate a theme park. The Disney ad does not have to utilize the informational function; rather, it is more efficient to keep the commercial short by extremely condensing the information about the product.

-Alyssa Snyder


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