Having recently watched Toy Story 3, I really enjoyed this article which provides some insights into how Pixar used social media to target a new market group, with an end result of Toy Story 3 being the most financially successful animated film of all time.

It always blows my mind how wrapped up we get when watching animated movies, how we fall in love with the characters and see them as real people, with real relationships. The number of times I’ve cried because of an animated relationship gone bad, or a toy being returned home safely shouldn’t actually be made public.

You can read the full How Social Media Helped Toy Story 3 Win at the Box Office (via Mashable) here, but in a nutshell here are some of the facts, figures and insights that I found interesting from the Toy Story articles mentioned above.

The history:

Toy Story was released in 1995 – since then it has taken $191,796,233.

The sequel, Toy Story 2 (released in 1999), blitzed this, taking $245,852,179.

The latest release, Toy Story 3, reached $1 billion at the worldwide box office in August 2010, making it the most successful animated film of all time.

How did Disney Pixar convince mums, dads, kids, students, grannies, grandads and even adults without kids to spend their money on seeing the film and buying the merchandise?

The Campaign:

Historically Pixar movies have appealed to a broader audience than other animated films and it’s not uncommon   to see more adults than children packed into theaters for their movies.

“From the very beginning, Disney and Pixar made it clear that individuals in their twenties would be a big target for Toy Story 3. The TV and print campaigns for the film largely targeted families and younger children. In an interesting move, however, Disney ran a parallel campaign targeting twenty-somethings via Facebook, YouTube and movie blogs” and successfully targeted demographics that didn’t traditionally flock to Disney animated feature film.

In March of 2010, Disney and Pixar announced (using Facebook) cliff hanger screenings of Toy Story 3 at college campuses around the country as a teaser campaign before the release of the actual movie.

Pixar and Disney also targeted older Generation X viewers with its “Groovin’ with Ken” character profile. The clip, which is very Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in its approach, introduces audiences to the character Ken.

Groovin with Ken


So – what can smaller businesses, with not as much budget as Disney, learn from this?

1. Segment your audience

The same message won’t work for different customers.  With Toy Story 3, adults loved the nostalgia of the 1980s Lots-o-huggin’ Bear adverts and Ken’s dreamhouse.  Teenagers loved the adult humour.  Kids loved the colours, the lovable toys and the adventure.

Think about your different customer groups and what messages are relevant to them about your products and your business.

Generate buzz ( ‘Interest’, not Lightyear)

Before you launch a new product range, get people talking about it – tease them with samples, invite them to share their experiences of using it once it’s launched.

Visualise a customer using your product, and think what they might want to tell you about it if they love it. Once you understand why your customers use your product, you can think of ways to encourage them to talk about

3.  Switch channels

‘To reach all those different audiences, Disney Pixar used tools from across the promotional mix – traditional print advertising, billboards, cinema and television adverts, as well as new media to give an interactive experience.’


Saying all of this I’m by no means the expert in this field, I can’t even say I was watching the movie with my daughter  – at 10 months she’s not quite into Buzz Lightyear – I do know that Social Media is having an impact on the way we work, communicate and build relationships with certain target groups. It doesn’t mean that we can forget about the traditional ways we used to reach our target markets, but it does mean we can’t ignore social media and the impact it has.  If you found this interesting though, we do have Social Media experts at TomorrowToday who offer keynote presentations as well as  social media coaching.


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