Family attracts Disney’s attention

2010-10-25T05:00:00Z 2010-10-25T10:44:59Z Family attracts Disney’s attentionANDREA ZANI| State Journal | azani@madison.com madison.com

What started out as a way to share Disney vacation videos with family and friends has turned into national television exposure for a Stoughton family.

Home videos shot by Christopher Parr and Alison Relyea-Parr of young daughters Ava and Grace are featured in a new Walt Disney Co. ad campaign that is airing across networks and cable stations. The videos were selected by Disney from among hundreds of Disney-themed postings on YouTube and other Internet sites to launch the company’s new “Let the Memories Begin” campaign.

“The creative team at Disney combed through the top-viewed Disney vacation home videos on YouTube,” Parr said, noting that his family’s videos had received “a combined 400,000 views.”

“They must have liked what they’d seen, as Disney reached out to us, asking permission to feature our family in their new campaign. ... We were thrilled to be included.”

Rick Sylvain, print and online media director for Walt Disney World Resort, said it was “the sheer joy of the kids and the parent-child interaction” that drew Disney to the Parrs’ videos.

The “Let the Memories Begin” campaign encourages people to share their park videos with others online, as the Parrs did, with Disney selecting clips and photos to include in ads and to show at Disney parks. Sylvain said this gives those who have visited Disney parks a way to let others know what the experience was like.

“Disney guests have always loved sharing their vacation memories with us and each other and we saw in social media channels the perfect vehicle to extend that sharing,” he said. “We are making consumers like (the Parrs) become the stars this time around.”

The Parrs are “big fans” of Disney and have been to Disney parks six times in the past 10 years, Parr said. “For children, there’s no better destination.”

In fact, at age 6, older daughter Ava has already been to Disney five times. She has visited Disney parks dressed in a Cinderella costume, her father said, and once — at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla. — was announced by staff at the front gate: “The princess is entering the kingdom!”

“She was quite tickled with herself,” Parr said of that favorite Disney memory.

Parr, who manages social marketing and strategies for Sub-Zero and Wolf in Madison, is right on board with the concept of engaging the public through campaigns such as “Let the Memories Begin.”

“I think this is a brilliant idea,” he said. “It’s real and authentic.”

The family has received compensation for having their videos in the ad campaign, Parr said, but their contract with the company requires the information to remain confidential. Parr did note that the family already is planning its next Disney trip, for early 2011.

“Ideally, (we’re) going off-season to avoid the crowds and the Florida heat,” he said.

Spoken like a real Disney expert.

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