‘Disney synergy’ in Anaheim, California: The political economy of “The Mighty Ducks”

Geoff Ostrove


Synergy occurs when a company recirculates, recycles, repackages, and redeploys an intellectual property that it already owns. While this is a strategy that all media corporations try to utilize, Disney has come to represent the quintessential example of how synergy can be utilized in the media industry. This article analyzes how Disney used synergy to make The Mighty Ducks franchise a success and how their efforts impacted upon the City of Anaheim, California. Using document analysis and personal interviews, the research cited in this article shows why Disney invested in the Angels baseball team and created the Mighty Ducks hockey team. This was a strategy to increase Disneyland’s profitability by building up the City of Anaheim, where Disneyland is located. They utilized the films Angels in the Outfield (1994) and The Mighty Ducks (1992), as well as their acquisition of ABC and ESPN, to cross promote their products across a variety of media. In the end, Anaheim is the city it is today because of Disney. This raises an important question for critical communication researchers. How are the business strategies of the major media networks influencing the urban planning strategies of our communities? The first Mighty Ducks film paved the way for the brand to become popular with kids. The creation of an actual Mighty Ducks hockey team helped the City of Anaheim develop, and it also served the company for synergistic purposes. While the second and third films combined didn’t make as much as the first film alone, having the team and the movies allowed for much cross-promotion. With the addition of a Saturday morning cartoon show, animated movies, and an extensive line of merchandise, The Mighty Ducks (1992), as a film and as a brand, became a prime example of ‘Disney synergy’ in action.

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