Bob Chapek has had an incredibly tough time since he took over as CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2020. Less than one month after he ascended to CEO, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and he was forced to make the tough decision to lay off and furlough tens of thousands of employees. Not only that, but Chapek has had to deal with increasing unpopularity as Disney fans were upset over the Scarlett Johansson lawsuit and feel that their experience at the Disney Parks is going down, while the prices are going up. While many praised his predecessor, Bob Iger, for being a visionary, Chapek has struggled to get away from his “bean counter” persona.
Even though it seems that Chapek has an uphill battle ahead of him, he is not letting that get him down. Chapek recently sent an email to Disney employees, telling them how proud he is to work with them and about what he would like to accomplish in the future. The internal email was sent to Variety, who shared it.
As he has said before, Bob Chapek believes that there are three pillars that Disney needs to follow in order to see the success that they have become known for — storytelling excellence, innovation, and a relentless focus on the Disney audience.
Chapek has said in the past that Disney not only plans to bring a number of amazing films to the big screen, but they also plan to bring a lot of new, original material to Disney+ — Disney’s very own streaming service that launched in 2019. Since the pandemic, Disney has released a number of big-name movies on Disney+, including Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Cruella.
Below, you can read the email in its entirety.
As we begin the New Year, I want to share our mission and the strategic pillars that will be key to our success—but first, I want to start 2022 on a note of gratitude for all of you, your talent, dedication, and optimism during the most disruptive time in our company’s history.
Thanks to you, we are weathering the pandemic and emerging stronger than ever. Over the last two years, we continued to tell the world’s best stories, reorganized, and accelerated our transformation to better serve audiences and guests. We looked inward during a time of social disruption, saw how much was left to do, and made significant change. And of course, we underwent a leadership change—and I am enormously grateful for the tremendous foundation Bob Iger left us.
You achieved those things during a once-in-a-century pandemic, and I want to acknowledge those whose roles require them to be in the office or one of our parks, as well as those working from home while managing at-home learning and gaps in childcare. I also appreciate your patience as we begin reopening our offices. Our long-term goal is to provide greater flexibility, and your leaders will be in touch as plans evolve.
It’s ironic that this disruption is happening as we prepare to celebrate our company’s 100th anniversary. For nearly a century, we have defined and redefined entertainment, created countless lifelong memories, and delighted fans and families around the world. It’s a legacy that is simply unrivalled—and a welcome responsibility for us to build upon.
And so I believe our mission for this year is clear: set the stage for our second century, and ensure Disney’s next 100 years are as successful as our first. To do that, we will focus on three pillars.
First, storytelling excellence. What makes Disney so unique is that the stories we tell mean something to people. They inspire, give hope, bring us together, illuminate the world around us, and create memories. That is Disney magic, and we must continue to set the creative bar higher and higher. To that end—and in addition to all my other creative meetings—I am establishing a new standing monthly meeting with our senior creative leaders to discuss the opportunities we face as a storytelling enterprise. This will encourage collaboration, sharing of best practices, and stimulate cross-studio ideation.
Second, innovation. Since Steamboat Willie, we have been the world’s foremost innovative storytellers. That must continue as technology evolves, giving our creative teams new canvases like the metaverse on which to paint. We should be especially innovative as we seek to bring stories to life in new ways—particularly if they enhance what many call our “franchise ecosystem,” which is one of the things that sets us apart.
And third, relentless focus on our audience. We are a big company with many constituents and stakeholders, all of whom have a place in our decision-making. But at the end of the day, our most important guide—our North Star—is the consumer. Right now, their behavior tells us and our industry that the way they want to experience entertainment is changing—and changing fast thanks to technology and the pandemic. We must evolve with our audience, not work against them. And so we will put them at the center of every decision we make.
When you look at the entertainment landscape, I believe Disney stands alone. We have the world’s most creative storytelling engine along with the world’s most beloved brands and franchises—which we can bring to life in ways no one else can. We have a portfolio of distribution platforms across the world—including powerful streaming services—with the ability to reach audiences anywhere, anytime. We have the #1 news organization and the most trusted brand in sports. We bring people together and make magical memories that last a lifetime at our parks and on our cruise ships. We have a unique ability to impact culture and connect with people on deeply personal levels. And we have you—the best team in the business.
I couldn’t think of a better combination, and I could not be more optimistic about our future. I look forward to setting the stage for our next century with all of you, and to making the unique brand of magic that only Disney can.
Bob Chapek has incredibly lofty plans for the future of The Walt Disney Company and, if he can achieve them, the future has the potential to be very bright.
Do you think Bob Chapek will be able to bring Disney to the next level?