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Over the last decade or so, if you payed attention to the trailers for any Pixar film, you’d hear something similiar to the phrase, “Walt Disney Pictures presents a Pixar Animation Studios film.” Kind of cumbersome, but it was important to both parties that they get credit for the film. They both had a significant branding interest in having their name attached. Pixar, because they’re the ones who did all the work, and Disney because their job was getting the movie out to the public.

And in the meantime, something happened. Pixar built up a reputation for making wildly creative, top-notch, high-quality family entertainment. And Disney, well… they didn’t.

Fast forward to 2007, when the first “Pixar” film will be released branded as Disney production. (For those not in the know, Disney recently finished their acquisition of Pixar.) The question then, is what to do with the Pixar brand name? The last decade’s worth of Pixar films have acquired for Pixar a legendary reputation for providing the best. A film released with Pixar’s name on it carries a guarantee, kind of like the way a Stradivarius does for stringed instruments. For a while during the 90’s a Disney movie had the same kind of promise, but recently, consumers have come to hedge their bets when queueing up for one of Disney’s flicks.

All in all I’ll be interested to see wether Disney will continue to use the Pixar brand or try to bolster their own through the efforts of the newly acquired studio. I know I’m still going to differentiate them for while.

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