Disney Channel Quietly Tests Agency Waters

The Disney Channel is meeting with shops nationwide to identify agencies that might handle future creative projects for the cable channel and the company’s recently launched Toon Disney network.
Shirley Powell, vice president of media relations for the Burbank, Calif.-based company confirmed the client is meeting informally with about 10 shops to identify resources, but stressed it is not conducting an agency search. The meetings are “really more for us to become smarter,” she said. “We’re trying to see who’s out there and what they do.
“The next time a project comes up, we will be able to assign it,” she said.
The talks could also lead to creative assignments for Toon Disney, the 24-hour cable network that was launched April 18, Powell said.
The Disney Channel currently handles most creative duties in-house, but has traditionally used a variety of agencies for creative projects. Shops that have handled projects in the last few years include Air Creative, Los Angeles; Mullen, Wenham, Mass; Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, Calif; and Fattal & Collins, Marina del Rey, Calif. Western International Media in Los Angeles handles media buying for all units of the Walt Disney Co.
Since its launch in 1983, The Disney Channel has grown to over 40 million subscribers. Toon Disney had five million subscribers as of its April launch. The Disney Channel spent about $8 million on measured media in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Separately, E! Entertainment Television is close to selecting an agency for its estimated $5 million account [Adweek, March 30]. “We’ll most likely select a shop within the next couple of weeks,” said a representative for the Los Angeles-based cable channel. She declined to name the contenders in the pitch.
E! also handles most creative duties in-house.