In an acknowledgment of the increasing dominance of technology, Disney announced Monday that it would combine its consumer products and interactive divisions into a new operation, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media.
The unit will be run jointly by co-chairs Leslie Ferraro, who was recently promoted to head of consumer products at the entertainment giant, and Jimmy Pitaro, the chief of interactive for the company.
In another sign of his increasingly prominent role at the company, the change was announced by Tom Staggs, who was promoted to COO this year, making him the possible heir apparent to Disney CEO Robert Iger.
“Both Disney Interactive and Disney Consumer Products have a strong track record of connecting people to their favorite stories and characters,” said Staggs. “As technology and digital entertainment continue to evolve, a shared innovation strategy will enable this new segment to create unique and engaging products and experiences that exceed consumers’ expectations.”
The change is designed to streamline operations and share technological expertise across the two divisions as they increasingly work on interactive experiences for customers. “The change will more effectively leverage Disney’s extensive licensing structure and retail relationships across both segments,” the statement said.
Pitaro said the combination would open up “unlimited possibilities” for the company.
“The timing of this announcement could not be better, with both divisions seeing great success in the marketplace with technology-driven initiatives alongside our more traditional lines of business,” Ferraro said.
Staggs also led the presentation earlier in the month when Disney rolled out a new set of interactive devices. The Playmation system features characters and stories from Disney franchises, with consumers able to use the portable toys to engage in a series of adventures, either inside or outside the home.
The first of the Playmation products, arriving in October, will be “Avengers” themed and include an Iron Man glove that will have players following a narrator’s instructions as they complete various missions. Consumers can interact with other players armed with the devices and with characters from the company’s “Avengers” films.
Such innovations will continue into the future under a new team Disney has dubbed DCPI Labs. The company said the innovation unit “will focus on using cutting edge technologies to create new immersive products.” The announcement said that Disney Publishing Worldwide, also continuing to increase its use of technology in storytelling, would report to co-chairs Ferraro and Pitaro.