PR team: Buena Vista International UK Ltd press office and Foresight New
Campaign: Launch of Toy Story.
Timescale: Mid-October 1995 - mid-March 1996.
Budget: Over pounds 1 million, including production of CD-ROMs
The success of Toy Story, the first fully computer-generated animated
feature, shows the possible future of film-making and film publicity. To
prepare for the film’s UK launch, Buena Vista mounted a hi-tech PR
To generate publicity for the film launch in a way that would underline
the technology involved in making the film and to widen its appeal
beyond the standard Disney audience.
As well as traditional press packs, Buena Vista’s executive marketing
director Robert Mitchell, asked Foresight to make up 100 CD-ROMs to
distribute to national and regional press and broadcast media.
The CD-ROMs contained a synopsis, production information, biographies of
the cast and film-makers, soundtrack details, film stills that could be
downloaded to produce first generation images and video clips of voice-
over stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
A special presentation of the CD-ROM was made at Cinema Days - four
days of film previews and interviews for regional journalists- in
January, with CDs handed out on request. A quarter of a million CD-ROMs
were also cover mounted on computer publications such as CD-ROM
Magazine, and distributed through an offer in the Funday Times. A
further quarter of a million are being translated into German, French
and Italian for publication abroad.
‘CD-ROMs are generally used by students, journalists and adults aged 16
to 24, which are the hardest group to persuade to go and see a Disney
movie, although they are among the most frequent cinema goers’ says
Mitchell ‘This was a way of attracting their attention, promoting its
use of technology and also getting across the humour of the film.’
On 1 March, Buena Vista also launched an Internet site with an event
that gave journalists access to the site through five available
The reviews were overwhelmingly positive although only around 30 or 40
of the receivers of CD-ROMs were able to use them - mainly computer
Youthful coverage included Big, Smash Hits, TV Hits, Just 17, More and
national newspapers including the Funday Times and Young Telegraph. More
adult spots appeared in Sky, Select, Loaded, GQ, Esquire and Maxim and
in film magazines Empire, Premiere and Sight & Sound. Time Out carried a
Toy Story picture on its cover with the line ‘too good to waste on
Using CD-ROM enabled Buena Vista to hand out an increased quantity of
information with images that could be transplanted straight into
publications but Buena Vista may have been trying to run before the
media could walk.
Mitchell was delighted by the public take-up on the CDs but admits: ‘The
100 CDs we sent out to the press were not so successful. A number of
them were unable to use it because the picture definition was too high
or they were too big.’
‘It was a good gimmick, part of the fun of Toy Story,’ says Ian Nathan
of Empire. ‘But I didn’t really use it in a practical way. We are very
set in our ways when it comes to press kits. At the moment, if we wanted
a story and were just handed this little disc we’d probably panic.’