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Billionaire Using Disney’s Struggling Brand Reputation For Hostile Takeover

Nelson Peltz Disney Failing Brand Reputation
Credit: Disney / Pixar / Canva

Bob Iger has been back at the helm of Disney for less than two years, and has had to spend most of that time fighting to bring the company back to the powerhouse it once was. Iger stepped down as CEO in February 2020, and Bob Chapek took over. Of course, just a few weeks later, Chapek was forced to close all Disney theme parks and stop all film and television productions because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Covid Disney masks

Credit: Disney

Related: Bob Chapek Calls Being Disney CEO “Three Years of Hell”

While Chapek couldn’t do anything about the pandemic, there was a lot that he mishandled once things started to head back in the direction of normal.

He tried to act like Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” Bill didn’t matter, calling it “irrelevant.” Then, he got rid of the popular (and free) FastPass system and implemented Disney Genie+. And who could forget his very public spat with Marvel star Scarlett Johansson, or his sudden firing of Peter Rice, the man deemed most likely to become Disney’s next CEO?

scarlett johansson

Credit: Marvel

Since being back, Bob Iger has attempted to undo the damage done by Chapek. Unfortunately, for one billionaire, Iger is not moving fast enough or doing enough. And he does not think that Iger is focused enough on making money for Disney’s shareholders.

For the second time in just over one year, billionaire Nelson Peltz is attempting a hostile takeover of Disney’s Board of Directors. Mr. Peltz is currently trying to get shareholders to vote for him and former Disney CFO Jay Rasulo on Disney’s Board of Directors. Peltz has said that he has given Iger a chance to “right the ship,” but that Mr. Iger has failed.

nelson peltz

Activist investor and billionaire Nelson Peltz / Credit: Flickr @Milken Institute

And now, he is using another tactic to attempt to elicit votes — Disney’s brand reputation.

Trian Fund Management has created an entire website dedicated to getting shareholders on their side. On this website, they note that “Disney’s brand health appears to be deteriorating.” According to the report, in 2018 and 2019, Disney’s brand reputation was number five out of 100. But, just four years later, in 2023, the company’s brand reputation had dropped to number 77.

Disney Brand Reputation

Credit: The Trian Group/Restoring the Magic

Why the Drop in Disney’s Reputation?

There are a lot of reasons that Disney’s brand may be floundering. At this point in time, a lot of it seems to be tied to the current political climate in the country.

Over the past few years, Disney has really focused on creating more content that features different kinds of people. There are all different kinds of families, different races, different relationships, anything you could imagine. Disney has said that it wants everyone to be able to see themselves reflected on screen, because representation matters.

Disney Bianca Short

Credit: Disney+

Disney has also loosened up its rules when it comes to cast members. The company has added “inclusion” to its Keys in training. Cast members can now express themselves in the jewelry they wear, the tattoos they display, the hairstyle they sport, and even the costumes they wear.

However, this has caused a giant rift between Disney and those who miss the more “traditional” way that Disney used to be. Disney has received a barrage of backlash for things like allowing men to wear costumes typically reserved for female cast members. There was also backlash against the casting of Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid (2023), and showing transgender representation in the Disney+ series, Baymax!.

Baymax Series

Credit: Disney

Related: New Baymax Series Features Controversial ‘Turning Red’ Topic and Trans Flag

Peltz and His Vendetta

Peltz is the founder and CEO of the Trian Fund Management — a massive hedge fund. The Trian Group has more than 32 million shares in Disney, equating to over $3.6 billion.

However, most of those shares actually belong to Ike Perlmutter, a former Marvel executive who was unceremoniously laid off in March 2023. Perlmutter said that his firing was because he was an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump. He was also open about the fact that he was on the side of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in his “woke” fight against Disney.

Ron DeSantis

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Related: Thorn in Disney’s Side Claims They Know “Root Cause of Disney’s Underperformance”

Disney has claimed that Mr. Peltz only wants a seat on Disney’s board so that Mr. Perlmutter can have control over what Disney does. They believe that Peltz and Perlmutter have a highly conservative “agenda” and that Mr. Perlmutter wants to get back at the company that let him go.

Do you think Disney needs to be worried about its brand reputation? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

One comment

  1. I pray that someday soon these two men will be successful in their attempt to takeover. Then the company will be saved for the vast majority of families who still enjoy the parks and USED to attend their movies!

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