20th Century Fox
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
13 August 2020
Disney and 20th Century Fox: The hard truth about acquisitions
When Disney bought the studio 20th Century Fox, it proclaimed the strength and essence of the 20th Century Fox brand. The long-standing studio, with roots stemming from the introduction of sound in the early 30s, is no more. And that’s the hard truth about acquisitions.
When a company swallows up another, there’s a playbook all seem to follow. The purchaser proclaims the power of the brand it just acquired, saying they’ll leave things in place because the brand has been so successful.
Then, after the uncertainty of the acquisition wanes, the purchaser finishes the meal of eating the seller, renaming it or simply making it part of the parent brand.
It feels ruthless, but it’s actually the smartest thing to do.
“The changes remain awkward. 20th Television carries little meaning. I doubt viewers will recognize what the brand means or where it comes from. But Disney’s head is in the right place. When you own so many brands, clarity is the ultimate goal.”
The Disney and 20th Century Fox brand architecture remains awkward
Disney will be renaming 20th Century Fox to simply 20th Television. There’s two reasons for that. One, the deal between Disney and Fox was complicated. It left Fox News and Fox Sports to the Murdoch family, with especially the former being the apple in the family’s eye. So, the name change avoids confusion.
There’s another reason. Disney is fast becoming a giant in the streaming industry. Its purchase of 20th Century Fox builds the library of Disney-owned Hulu. Hulu subscribers have already seen the awkwardly branded FX on Hulu, which plays shows that would normally run on the FX channel. Remaining it to Fox Television is simply an attempt to clarify matters.
The changes remain awkward. 20th Television carries little meaning. I doubt viewers will recognize what the brand means or where it comes from. But Disney’s head is in the right place. When you own so many brands, clarity is the ultimate goal. (Truth be told, Disney and its sub-brands could use a little help from us on brand architecture.)
Still, for those of us who love old movies, 20th Century Fox going away is a little sad. Fox was never one of my favorite old movie studios. (I’m a Warner Bros man with its catalog of film noirs from the 40s.) Still, this is the studio that made Star Wars, many of John Ford’s 40s classics, All About Eve, The Hustler, and many others. Too many to list.
The brand architecture is clunky for now. But that’s usually how it goes. Few acquisitions go smoothly. It’s just the hard truth.
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