Disney Talks, Florida Shops Are Listening

Agency sources said Walt Disney Vacation Club International is currently involved in a quiet search to hire an in-state shop for its $3 million account.
Though Mickey’s people deny it, four agencies said they have spoken with the Orlando, Fla.-based real estate arm of the entertainment conglomerate. Three of these said the vacation club has participated in a series of discussions in an on-again, off-again process going back several months. Separately, two agencies confirmed the $3 million budget.
According to sources, the search is being handled by the vacation club’s marketing manager, Pam Cawthon, previously the promotion director at Cramer-Krasselt in Orlando, Fla.
The account had been held by Atlanta’s Pringle Dixon Pringle until Disney took the business in-house two years ago.
Though she first said Disney was not involved in any type of agency search, Cawthon later admitted, “We might be talking to some people about project creative work.” She said Disney often hires smaller local shops for projects.
All agencies emphatically denied discussions were for project work.
“[Cawthon’s] decided to invite a select group of agencies in, and she told us it was very much on the QT,” said one agency source.
Otherwise, the agencies provide conflicting information about what Disney has been telling them. One was told shops with hospitality experience in Florida will not be considered. Another with an in-state hospitality background has had several meetings with Disney.
The Disney Vacation Club sells real estate shares, based on a point system, to stay at a variety of its resorts and affiliated properties. The initial cost to join is $9,500.
Disney Vacation Club is not specifically listed in Competitive Media Reporting, but hotel properties belonging to the parent organization reported 1998 media expenditures of $2.2 million.