On the days I’m not sleeping in airports (yes, it’s a small fetish of mine) I’m well fed by publicists who just happen to have clients in tow. This happened again Tuesday morning, and the clients this time were Alexandra Kennedy and Glenn Rosenbloom, the editorial director and group publishing director, respectively, of Disney Publishing Worldwide.
The obvious bit of news is that Disney even has a magazine division, and that it’s based in neither New York nor Burbank, but in Northampton, Mass. That happens to be the homebase of Kennedy and her staff, who produce Disney Adventures, FamilyFun—the most anonymous two million-circ magazine you’ve probably never seen—and their latest creation, Wondertime. I won’t get into any great detail about the magazine except to say that it’s running in the pack of new BoBo parenting titles like Condé’s Cookie and the more eclectic Violet, but two things are especially worth mentioning.
The first is that Disney is truly a massive, synergistic media machine that just happens to target moppets. Coverage of Disney’s $7.4 billion purchase of Pixar has either focused on Steve Jobs or on the covergent future of Disney, but just flipping through Wondertime‘s marketing and distribution plan seeding the magazine in Disneyworld hotel rooms, movie tie-ins, Disney books, even Winnie-the-Pooh—is a reminder that Disney can squeeze synergy from one of the lowest-tech media of all.
The other thing was something Alexandra Kennedy mentioned during a riff on suburban alienation (paging BHL!) and its impact on child-rearing. One of FamilyFun‘s most popular features was a column in which readers could write in to share what they had learned. “It was about moms sharing things with other moms,” Kennedy said. “In our magazine, you could find people using us to find other people—Oprah’s magazine has tapped into this as well.”
Well, sure, and so did Friendster. It struck me that Kennedy was really describing a rudimentary, print-based form of social networking, and maybe what mothers really need—and what Disney could do with the Wondertime website—is their own version of MySpace. Call it MomSpace.