In today’s Wall Street Journal, Rich Ross, President of Disney Channels Worldwide, reflects on 2009 and his goals. One of the goals is to program and create franchises for boys. That’s a good move for Disney (NYSE: DIS); with American Girl movies and the like there is plenty for girls but not enough for boys. Here is what Ross said:
To maximize full potential, the kids media business has the challenge to reach boys more effectively. According to the boys and parents we’ve talked to, there is a shortage of programming that connects with them , challenges them and inspires them on their journey.
High School Musical just won’t do it; there is plenty for boys who want to sing out there. The success of the Dangerous Book for Boys has shown interest in straightforward boys stuff; lay off the feminism please!
Crimefighting. Outdoors. Construction. Forts. Science. Cowboys. Morse code. Pen knives. Trees. Bugs. Daisy BB guns. Even a dead squirrel tail.
A few suggestions of franchises for Disney to look at; the Hardy Boys are great but there are so many more to consider. Email us if you need more ideas.
- Boys’ Life and Boy Scouts. Scouting could use the Disney touch. Indeed Disney could entirely reinvigorate the non-profit institution worldwide with a weekly program that simply shows Boy Scouts from Africa, Asia, Europe and U.S. earning merit badges. Perhaps it’s a weekly 1/2 hour television show of Boys Life? Imagine seeing a story of Boy Scout troops in Kenya?
- Tomorrowland. Disney’s version of tomorrow is ripe for a Pirates of the Caribbean revival. Is it a TV program around science and exploration? Or maybe look at the intellectual property of Estes Rockets. Estes gives boys a sense of power and excitement launching rockets. Slight danger element, too. Movie on the founder Vernon Estes? A real Rocketeer.
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. In fact, all of the Jules Verne novels would translate well to new audiences. Danger, a giant octopus!
- Davy Crockett. Sometime in the 1990s, Davy Crockett ‘coon caps came back in the inner city, as a street fashion. It was proof to me then that there was something cool about Davy Crockett, and very timeless. If Disney can get kids interested in the scenery and political climate of the pre-Revolutionary British Colonial territories through Pirates of the Caribbean, it can certainly re-interest boys in Frontierland.
- Adventure Literature. In fact, all of classic boys’ literature is of interest for creating Disney franchises, think Jack London and Mark Twain. Schools love this too; excellent opportunity for that education market.
- Main Street U.S.A. Some of the stores on Main Street are perfect franchises for Disney to claim for boys. While girls like the shopping on Main Street USA, the boyish things have been forgotten. How does a steam engine work (trains)? How do fires get put out? What about photography and computers at the camera shop?
- Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. This book series was the best, ever. Bring it to the screen, please.
- Classic Boys’ Toys. Chemcraft Chemistry Sets come immediately to mind. These were the best. What about programming and product licensing that deals with mixing things up, and dealing safely with chemicals? Hasbro (NYSE: HAS), Disney’s partner, has other brands that are ripe for renewal, including Battleship and Stratego. What about Erector and the other construction related brands? Radio Shack is another potential partner; their scientific kits are genius.
- Snow Treasure. This book by Marie McSwigan (illustration above) would be perfect for a Disney movie. Boys AND girls defying frightening Nazis to smuggle gold during World War II, by sled. Think of the Disney ride on that one!