In a recent viral video, Dug, the talking dog from the Pixar movie “Up,” was brought into the real world. For “Dug in Real Life,” Disney sent a retriever equipped with a talking collar into a park to interact with unsuspecting couples and families.
The video was created by Disney’s consumer products and interactive media division, or DCPI, the unit that’s tasked with turning Disney films into mobile-first content for its 200 digital properties, like Disney.com and all social channels, from Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat.
Dan Reynolds, vp of content and audience development at DCPI, leads three teams: audience development, content, and the co-op studio, which works with advertisers to create native advertising. Beyond “Dug in Real Life,” the unit has created clips like the “Disney as Told by Emojis,” a short-form video series which recreates Disney classics like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella,” in well, emojis.
“Everyone thinks, ‘I’m on Snapchat and I’m on Facebook’ and thinks this job is easy,” said Reynolds, 36, about the biggest misconception around his role. “To bring a story to an audience it takes a lot of work and a new mindset.” Although he added that Disney offers no shortage of inspiration. “We’re starting from the world’s best characters and stories. It’s a unique and fun playground to start from creatively.”
Reynolds walked us through a typical day in his life, slightly edited for clarity.
6:30 a.m.: I set an alarm, but usually my dog, Susan gets to me first — her stomach wakes her up like clockwork.
6:45 a.m.: Quick scan of the morning headlines, Twitter, and a peek at Instagram, and Snapchat.
7:00 a.m.: Coffee. It’s a habit I can’t quit. I tried. And a breakfast shake.
7:15 a.m.: Catch up on emails that came in overnight. Our New York sales and editorial team are up early, so they’re always first in line in my inbox.
8:27 a.m.: Arrive at the DCPI Glendale office and head to the 5th floor. Our floorplan is open and set up newsroom-style. The teams are already buzzing and coming together to discuss the day’s content programming, production, and scheduling. Our office doubles as a production space, so there is always someone shooting a video, doing a DIY craft for Disney Family, or planning out the day’s Snapchat stories.
9:00 a.m.: First meeting of the day is my weekly touch-base with our heads of sales, finance, and product. We spend most of the time today talking about cross-platform video strategy.
9:30 a.m.: My favorite part of the day: Stand-up is a daily gathering where the people who work on content, design, audience development, and others come together to program the day, week, and month ahead. Our audience development lead talks about some initial results from Facebook’s Vertical Video Viewership that she wants to see us test across the network. Stand-up ends with a rapid-fire brainstorm on content ideas for Halloween and a review of the videos we’ll be posting today.
10:00 a.m.: In the car heading to the Walt Disney Studio lot in Burbank for an early screening of an upcoming film. One of my favorite parts of my job is thinking about how we’ll bring Disney properties to digital audiences across our network editorially.
11:30 a.m.: Back to the office. On the drive over I talk to our head of digital in Latin America. They’ve recently launched Oh My Disney in Brazil and Argentina to serve local Gen Z and Millennial audiences. We discuss editorial plans and commercial strategy.
12:00 p.m.: I grab a quick lunch from the commissary and bring it back to my office.
12:15 p.m.: Phone call from the head of Disney Book Group with a question about a video piece we just created for the recent book release, “Frozen: A Pop-up Adventure,” by Matthew Reinhart.
1:00 p.m.: Meeting with the Facebook Anthology team and our advertising sales and Co/Op teams to go over some upcoming client pitches. Co/Op is our branded content studio for advertisers who want to align their brand with the Disney brand. We discuss potential talent to bring onboard for one of the programs we’re developing for a retail client. The call ends with discussion on some opportunities with Facebook’s Creative Shop Studio to explore different video formats designed for the Newsfeed.
2:30 p.m.: Meeting with our audience insights team to talk about our measurement toolkit. Every part of our team — content, audience development, product, and sales — rely heavily on the data that’s generated by the network.
3:00 p.m.: Check in with our creative director on the next round of Disney Stickers for Apple iMessage. We launched ten packs with the release of iOS 10 and have more slated every month.
4:00 p.m.: I’m meeting with our consumer products team and our Disney Style lead to discuss potential fashion collaborations that we should highlight in the next episode of Destination Disney Style.
5:00 p.m.: Back to my office to catch-up on email, return calls, and prep for an early meeting tomorrow.
5:45 p.m.: I watch a rough cut of the latest episode of our Babble series, “Kidsplaining.” Literally laugh out loud.
6:30 p.m.: Quick scan of the day’s published content to see what performed, what didn’t, and formulate some thoughts on what we can learn for the next round.
6:45 p.m.: The office is starting to quiet down. Time to head out. Off to the gym. No screen time during my workout— It’s like a reset button.
8:30 p.m.: Home for dinner. Susan reminds me again that she’s starving (she’s never really starving).
9:30 p.m.: Finish the last episode of The Night Of.
10:30 p.m.: Scan email, check Instagram and Snapchat. Text my sister. Review my calendar and clean-up my to-do list. Lights out.