Spelling Out the Fine Print

Garfield sends e-mail to Disney specialists clarifying the company’s promotion policy

By: Robert Carlsen

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is responding to Disney specialists who have been told by the company not to use the designation in their marketing and promotional materials, including business cards.

Last week, Disney specialists received an e-mail from Disney executive Randy Garfield reiterating its policy on the use of the designation in agency marketing and advertising.

The action followed the news of an Illinois travel agent who was directed by Disney to remove the specialist designation from her business card, in accordance with Disney’s policy to protect its brand (News, Sept. 9).

In the e-mail, Garfield, executive vice president of sales and travel operations, wrote: “Although I understand why a travel agent would like to use the Disney specialist designation in their marketing and advertising materials, we cannot vouch for each of the over 50,000 individuals worldwide who completed the training at any point over the past 10 years, and monitor their service standards and level of proficiency on an ongoing basis, in order to enable us to permit our brand to be used in that fashion.”

Garfield said the principal objective of the College of Disney Knowledge “was not to bestow a marketing entitlement, but to provide detailed product knowledge and sales training to help you sell Disney vacations more effectively.”

Graduates of the college were told upon completion to “prominently display their diplomas in their offices as well as tout their achievement to their local community through the approved press release we provide,” he said.

Garfield said the guidelines for the program and other ongoing trademark and copyright policies ultimately protect the Disney brand.

“If the brand becomes eroded in the eyes of the consumer, then we all lose, because Disney vacations would be less appealing to potential clients,” he said. “We cannot allow that to happen.”

Early last week during a conference call with trade reporters, Garfield said most travel agents already know about the restrictions in advertising. He said he had lunch with some AAA agents in Los Angeles recently and “they got it.” He reiterated that Disney “is not in the position to police ... service standards and proficiencies” of agents who complete the course.