A world without stories, is a world unimaginable. Storytelling makes us human; it’s stories that help us make sense of the world, that sets our imagination on fire, and that ultimately become the building blocks of our entire lives. We only have to look up into the night sky to see countless tales etched into the constellations by our ancestors, leaving lasting memories, defiantly immune to time.
The Walt Disney Company has penned countless stories of hope, love, and loss that similarly live on in our minds; the common thread that binds each and every one is that the stories they tell mean something to people. They bring us together over shared experiences, help us to see new perspectives and navigate this world of ours, ultimately inspiring us to dream beyond our current limitations.
It’s a cultural cachet no other brand has quite come close to achieving. As the company approaches its 100th Anniversary, we spoke with Marcus Rosie, SVP Global Creative, to lift the page on the inner workings of the Disney brand magic.
Fostering a culture of dreamers
Behind the brand, the films, the stories and the rich history of iconic characters, is of course a team of boundless and inquisitive minds that see the world through a unique lens. “The spark that ignites imagination is fragile and rare,” Rosie tells us. “It doesn’t show up on demand! The best ideas come when the human brain is free to dream, imagine, and be empowered to take risks. The very best ‘magical’ ideas stem from a healthy creative culture where everyone plays, and everyone’s ideas are heard regardless of how goofy!”
Rosie’s favourite film has a lovely and almost serendipitous symmetry to the way his team nurture their creativity through play. “Since I was a kid, I’ve loved Peter Pan. It’s such a magical story, with incredible characters, and at the end of the day, I adhere to the concept of never really growing up! All the world is made of faith and trust, and pixie dust.” An iconic character that so perfectly embodies the escapism of stories themselves.
100 years of imagineering innovation
Not one to fear the unknown that comes with playing with innovation, knowing that magic is usually poised and waiting just around the corner, the entertainment giant has pioneered an enviable list of breakthroughs; from ‘fully synchronized’ sound cartoons in the release of Steamboat Willie in 1929; the introduction of Captain EO, one of the world’s first 4-D films in 1986; to Toy Story, the world’s first feature-length computer-animated film. “It's innovation that has propelled Disney for the last 100 years and will undoubtedly be the fuel that drives us for the next 100!” assures Rosie.
Innovation has formed the fabric of Rosie’s career, too, as he’s witnessed first-hand how inextricably linked storytelling is with technological advances. His creative journey began in a climactic age when digital breakthroughs were burgeoning full-steam ahead; starting out developing branded web-based experiences in the early 90s, his love for technology grew exponentially with the dawn of the smartphone and the exciting reams of possibilities that it brought with it.
“A storytelling device in every human’s hand 24/7 now that is powerful! As we enter the dawn of Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, the combination of computational power, connection speeds, incredibly affordable hardware, frictionless software, and mass adoption presents a mind-blowing opportunity for Disney to connect with guests around the world in new and exciting ways.”
Watch this space, for part two of our interview with Marcus Rosie!