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Disney executive Andy Mooney featured by American Marketing Association on Avila's campus

  Kansas City, MO    
April 30, 2010

  Andy Mooney, Chair of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide

Click here to view photos from the event

The featured guest at this year’s annual seminar hosted by the American Marketing Association of Kansas City was an executive of Disney, so it only made sense that event moderator John Holt of WDAF Fox 4 opened the program with a fairy tale of sorts.

The tale was about a young man in early 20th century Kansas City struggling to get a movie studio off the ground. His efforts failed here, but the man persevered, headed west to California and tried again. The name of that man was Walt Disney, and the rest of that story is, as they say, history. Andy Mooney, currently the chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide, shared a similar story of perseverance and fearlessness with about 300 AMA-KC members the morning of April 27 at Goppert Theatre on the campus of Avila University.

Rather than take the more conventional path out of high school to college, Mooney said he went straight into industry, convincing companies along the way that it was worth it for them to take the time to train him in what he needed to know. He received his first big break when a fledgling shoe company that specialized in waffle-like soles with strange swooshes on the sides hired him to be its chief financial officer of its United Kingdom subsidiary when Mooney, a native of Whitburn, Scotland, was just 25.

“I basically unloaded crates of shoes and kept the ledger,” Mooney said. “The running boom was just starting.”

Those simple beginnings led to a move “across the pond” to Nike’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. and what would turn into a 20-year career with the company. He finished as that company’s chief marketing officer and head of its $3 billion global apparel organization.

Mooney left Nike for Disney in 1999, becoming the world’s leading entertainment entity’s president. In 2003, he was named Disney’s chairman of consumer products.

“After you’ve worked for a brand like Nike, it’s tough to find another brand that gets you excited,” he said. “Disney was definitely that brand. I felt that what I learned at Nike would be valuable at Disney.”

That knowledge and expertise wasn’t always accepted wholeheartedly or welcomed at Disney, especially the company’s studio brass, Mooney said. A trip to a “Disney on Ice” show in Phoenix, where he noticed dozens of young girls dressed in homemade princess costumes with their mothers, led to him coming up with the now-famous Princess brand, a concept that was resisted at first by Disney studio executives.

“Now, (the Princess brand) is a $4 billion retail business,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a good idea. I never thought it’d be $4 billion good.”

Mooney said he also pushed Disney to partner with television. Anybody who’s heard the words “High School Musical” or “Hannah Montana” knows how that’s turned out.

The lesson, Mooney said in so many words, is to push forward with ideas and innovations, no matter who might be pushing back. That, and trusting in your products, he said.

“Branding all comes down to the quality of the products,” he said, then referring to a quote he remembered from one of his marketing role models.

“Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) was quoted once as saying branding is a lot like a bank,” Mooney said. “You have to be sure you’re making more deposits than withdrawals.”

It can certainly be concluded that, thus far, Mooney has made a lot more deposits than withdrawals when it comes to his ideas and actions in global marketing. And, for more than two hours, his stories of success held his audience, which included several Avila students, enraptured.

“Disney’s story is easy to latch onto,” said James Billinger, president of AMA-KC. “Its business model offers so much information useful for all branding and marketing campaigns. It was a great event. I think everyone could pick out some information to use for their businesses, while students could find plenty to use as they move forward into their careers.”

Avila directly benefited from the event in the form of a $1,500 grant from AMA-KC. The check was presented from Avila marketing professor and former AMA-KC president Brian Buckler to Charlene Gould, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.


About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.