Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek outlined three “strategic pillars” for the company going forward in a memo to staff Monday. Chapek’s memo comes as Disney prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.
“I believe our mission for this year is clear: set the stage for our second century, and ensure Disney’s next 100 years are as successful as our first,” Chapek wrote in the memo, before outlining the “pillars.”
The first pillar is “storytelling excellence,” which Chapek called the “Disney Magic” in his memo. Storytelling and creative was Bob Iger’s focus after he stepped down as CEO in 2020, and Chapek’s memo makes it clear that he intends to be engaged in the process.
“To that end — and in addition to all my other creative meetings — I am establishing a new standing monthly meeting with our senior creative leaders to discuss the opportunities we face as a storytelling enterprise,” Chapek wrote. “This will encourage collaboration, sharing of best practices, and stimulate cross-studio ideation.”
Iger officially left the company at the end of 2021, with Chapek writing Monday that he was “enormously grateful for the tremendous foundation Bob Iger left us.”
The second pillar is “innovation,” which Chapek writes should leverage the company’s “franchise ecosystem.”
“Since Steamboat Willie, we have been the world’s foremost innovative storytellers,” Chapek wrote. “That must continue as technology evolves, giving our creative teams new canvases like the metaverse on which to paint.”
The final pillar is a “relentless focus on our audience,” by placing consumers as the company’s “North Star.” Disney’s evolving theatrical and streaming strategy appears to play a critical role in that area (most recently, the company revealed that Pixar’s Turning Red will go direct to Disney+)
“Right now, their behavior tells us and our industry that the way they want to experience entertainment is changing—and changing fast thanks to technology and the pandemic,” Chapek writes. “We must evolve with our audience, not work against them. And so we will put them at the center of every decision we make.”
Chapek also thanked employees who had to work from offices, studios or theme parks, and those working from home while balancing childcare needs. Chapek added that “our long-term goal is to provide greater flexibility,” suggesting that the company could adjust its in-office plans in the future.
Read Chapek’s full memo, below.
As we begin the New Year, I want to share our mission and the strategic pillars that will be key to our success—but first, I want to start 2022 on a note of gratitude for all of you, your talent, dedication, and optimism during the most disruptive time in our company’s history.
Thanks to you, we are weathering the pandemic and emerging stronger than ever. Over the last two years, we continued to tell the world’s best stories, reorganized, and accelerated our transformation to better serve audiences and guests. We looked inward during a time of social disruption, saw how much was left to do, and made significant change. And of course, we underwent a leadership change—and I am enormously grateful for the tremendous foundation Bob Iger left us.
You achieved those things during a once-in-a-century pandemic, and I want to acknowledge those whose roles require them to be in the office or one of our parks, as well as those working from home while managing at-home learning and gaps in childcare. I also appreciate your patience as we begin reopening our offices. Our long-term goal is to provide greater flexibility, and your leaders will be in touch as plans evolve.
It’s ironic that this disruption is happening as we prepare to celebrate our company’s 100th anniversary. For nearly a century, we have defined and redefined entertainment, created countless lifelong memories, and delighted fans and families around the world. It’s a legacy that is simply unrivalled—and a welcome responsibility for us to build upon.
And so I believe our mission for this year is clear: set the stage for our second century, and ensure Disney’s next 100 years are as successful as our first. To do that, we will focus on three pillars.
First, storytelling excellence. What makes Disney so unique is that the stories we tell mean something to people. They inspire, give hope, bring us together, illuminate the world around us, and create memories. That is Disney magic, and we must continue to set the creative bar higher and higher. To that end—and in addition to all my other creative meetings—I am establishing a new standing monthly meeting with our senior creative leaders to discuss the opportunities we face as a storytelling enterprise. This will encourage collaboration, sharing of best practices, and stimulate cross-studio ideation.
Second, innovation. Since Steamboat Willie, we have been the world’s foremost innovative storytellers. That must continue as technology evolves, giving our creative teams new canvases like the metaverse on which to paint. We should be especially innovative as we seek to bring stories to life in new ways—particularly if they enhance what many call our “franchise ecosystem,” which is one of the things that sets us apart.
And third, relentless focus on our audience. We are a big company with many constituents and stakeholders, all of whom have a place in our decision-making. But at the end of the day, our most important guide—our North Star—is the consumer. Right now, their behavior tells us and our industry that the way they want to experience entertainment is changing—and changing fast thanks to technology and the pandemic. We must evolve with our audience, not work against them. And so we will put them at the center of every decision we make.
When you look at the entertainment landscape, I believe Disney stands alone. We have the world’s most creative storytelling engine along with the world’s most beloved brands and franchises—which we can bring to life in ways no one else can. We have a portfolio of distribution platforms across the world—including powerful streaming services—with the ability to reach audiences anywhere, anytime. We have the #1 news organization and the most trusted brand in sports. We bring people together and make magical memories that last a lifetime at our parks and on our cruise ships. We have a unique ability to impact culture and connect with people on deeply personal levels. And we have you—the best team in the business.
I couldn’t think of a better combination, and I could not be more optimistic about our future. I look forward to setting the stage for our next century with all of you, and to making the unique brand of magic that only Disney can.