June 30, 2011 / By Bryan Harris
“You can’t allow tradition to get in the way of innovation,” Iger said. “There’s a need to respect the past, but it’s a mistake to revere the past.”
Iger clearly has an eye for innovation. During his tenure as Chief Executive, Disney has purchased Pixar and Marvel Entertainment, and announced plans for Disneyland Shanghai. But in response to a question by Ignatious about sharing content development with consumers – which would be innovative, if not sacrilegious, for a company like Disney — Iger held firm to tradition.
“I’ve found that when you take a committee approach to creativity, it usually fails,” he said. “It dissipates one person’s deep passion for an idea or a creative direction.”
I can certainly understand why Iger would be resistant to crowdsourcing content creation. He is, after all, steward of one of the oldest and most admired global brands in entertainment. Many of Disney’s highly valued assets (Mickey, Donald, Snow White, Disneyland) have endured as cultural icons for many decades absent any outside intervention. Renowned for its artistic and technological innovation, Disney has excelled at developing content on its own terms. So why mess with that formula, especially when your share price is up 66% over the past decade?
That being said, wouldn’t it be refreshing if Disney took a bold new approach to its creative process and opened things up to the public? Iger mentions how Mickey Mouse is due for some tweaking – a little makeover, perhaps, that borrows on his original attributes (impish, irreverent) to broaden his appeal to a new generation of consumers. Of course, Mickey is the last asset that Disney would allow to be crowdsourced, but just imagine if a Mickey Makeover were placed in the hands of consumers, say a group of mouse-centric Millennials? He would remain as happy and loveable as ever, but perhaps a little more relevant and appealing to a wider audience — a little edgier, dare I say.
So maybe this is what they’d serve up for a new generation of Mouseketeers: