In November of last year, I was in the final stages of launching my blog when a friend of mine (a lawyer) got wind of the project. She was fully supportive, but she had a minor concern because I was using trademarked property (i.e. the Disney name) throughout the blog. This got me scratching my bald head.
After a few seconds of panicking, I remembered that there are thousands of Disney-related blogs, websites, podcasts, YouTube channels and other social media endeavors that were created by average Joe’s like you and me. No sweat!
Just for fun, I decided to do some research on the issue because I wanted to see if Disney (or any other company) had ever slapped someone with a trademark infringement lawsuit related to blogs, fan sites, etc. While I didn’t invest an exhaustive amount of time on this effort, I did find one example.
In September of last year, two women from Texas started a blog about slow-cookers that immediately went viral. While hundreds of thousands of fans loved their recipes, a manufacturer of slow-cookers wasn’t quite as supportive since their trademarked name was used in the title of the blog.
The details of how the conversations between the manufacturer and the slow-cookin’ ladies are a little vague, but the punchline is that they ultimately changed the name of their blog.
In my humble opinion, this could have been a tremendous source of free advertising for that company. In fact, if I was a competing manufacturer of slow-cookers, I would have tried to strike a deal with the women to have them use my company’s name after hearing about that incident!
Let’s contrast that story with how The Walt Disney Company appears to view information published by fans.
They embrace independent bloggers by inviting some of them to press events. They embrace the idea of podcasters by letting them record shows inside the Disney theme parks. Interestingly, I can’t seem to find any instances where Disney issued a cease and desist order to a non-Disney creator of content.
Why would Disney want to mute these channels? Fan sites do a tremendous job of building community and awareness. In fact, I’m addicted to sites like The Disney Driven Life! They make me even more excited about the Disney brand.
How can we connect the dots to our own businesses or careers?
1) Business Owners: Offer products or services that are worthy of building armies of brand evangelists. When those brand evangelists start to preach, that’s your cue to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sermon.
2) Career-Driven Individuals: Start your own blog or other social media platform so you can give the world a chance to see how you’re the best at what you do. No matter what platform you choose, make sure your readers have the ability to leave comments and interact with others in the community you’re building.
Mmmm, all this talk about slow cookers and Disney is making me hungry for the braised short ribs I’m going to have for lunch at Chefs de France in Epcot next week! Bon Appetit!!