From the April 1, 1996 issue of CEN

Disney Creates a Big Buzz for Toy Story CD-ROM

By David English

BURBANK, CA—Toy Story Animated Storybook, latest in Disney's hot series of movie-based CD-ROMs for children, will appear at retail April 24 with a promotional buildup that includes "a big Buzz with a bubble" display, a video trailer, and a Web site contest with 10,000 prizes.

The storybook was produced by Pixar, acclaimed creator of the Toy Story movie, and it contains the same kind of computer-generated animation and character-based humor that helped make the film a hit.

"About two thirds of the animation is all new stuff, and about one third is quasi-repurposed," says Disney Marketing Director Joe Adney. The older material was freshened by reshooting scenes from different camera angles, adjusting the lighting, and even altering some dialogue. "Some of the things were changed to make it more appropriate for the CD-ROM format."

The launch comes during something of a quiet time in the channel, and Disney is taking advantage of it. "Given the time that we're coming out, we thought there would be a little less noise in the channel, and we're really going to be aggressive," says Adney. "We've got a spot TV campaign that will run for three weeks. It will be in the top 25 markets."

The 30-second spots will include brand new animation from Pixar. Disney also is planning a national print campaign with Dial for Kids that includes a free-standing insert. "It will have a circulation of 55 million and include a $5 rebate on our product when you buy two Dial for Kids products," says Adney.

Naturally, there's a dedicated Web site with a contest "to generate pre-awareness," says Adney. "We'll give away 10,000 Toy Story prizes, and people will keep coming back to the site because we'll have a different contest every day."

In-store promotions include a 48-piece display with track lights and a 3D look. "We've got a big Buzz with a bubble—his helmet is simulated," says Adney. A 24-piece version of the display will also be available.

Adney suggests that some retailers might want to establish separate Disney sections in their stores, considering the amount of merchandise available. "We should do very well with Target, Wal-Mart, and Sears. They're the kind of venues that are used to pushing these kinds of properties."

A trailer for the CD-ROM will also be found on The Aristocats video, which comes out the same day as the software. The Aristocats has never been released on video, so Disney is anticipating that the tape will do well. "We also did that on the Pocahontas video, which has a trailer for the Pocahontas Animated StoryBook," says Adney.

There's more to the Toy Story juggernaut—Disney is planning a second CD-ROM for the third quarter, and the movie is coming out in video release in the fall.

What comes after that for the Pixar/Disney partnership? Nothing soon. The next cartoon feature isn't due out until 1998.

The Whole Gang's There… Except for Tom and Tim

New scenes and dialogue were used in Toy Story Animated Storybook, and that meant new voice-overs were needed from the actors in the movie.

"We got most of the cast—everyone but Buzz [Tim Allen] and Woody [Tom Hanks]," says Disney spokesman Joe Adney. "It wasn't possible to take two of the most popular actors in the world and fit them into our schedule." Plus, he notes, "we had a pretty narrow window to get them all recorded, because it takes forever to get the animation rendered even in the lower resolution."

Don Rickles returns as Mr. Potato Head, Annie Potts as Bo Peep, Jim Varney as Slinky Dog, and Wallace Shawn as Rex. Hank's character will sound authentic—the voice is that of Jim Hanks, his brother.

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