Disney XD: Creating the Unstoppable Strategy

The Challenge

Disney had experienced great success with the Disney Channel, a family-friendly entertainment option that proved extremely popular with girls. In 2007, Disney’s next goal was to recreate that success with an underserved demographic and the audience behind a +$50B/year market: boys between the ages of 6 and 14.

Neither Disney nor its competitors, including Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, had cracked the code to attracting and retaining that audience’s interest.

Our Solution

The ultimate goal was to create a boy-centric television channel and media brand platform that would capture the majority of a very profitable target audience. To accomplish that objective, we needed to do three things:

1.    Build a strong emotional bond with the target audience to gain an advantage over other networks.

2.    Develop a compelling entertainment platform targeted to boys, yet inclusive of girls, by understanding boys’ core values and aspirations.

3.    Provide guidance to develop programming guidelines and realize the platform’s look and feel.

Emotional Core: Accomplishment


From our research, we discovered that a critical value for adolescent boys is achievement. The boys we interviewed wanted to feel unstoppable, like they were on top of the world. They needed a television channel that would esteem their drive to achieve and inspire them to explore.

Understanding this emotional motivation helped us elevate and differentiate Disney’s new offering from existing competition.

Equally importantly, the uncovered fundamental human value was not gender-specific, which supported our goal of being inclusive to girls while catering to boys.

Innovation: Disney XD


Based on the desired experience of feeling unstoppable, LLI collaborated with Disney writers and producers to develop new characters and program concepts, resulting in shows like Aaron Stone and Phineas and Ferb. To complete the package, we partnered with design firms to develop the overall look of the channel, choosing the color palette and logo that would bring it all together as Disney XD.

The Results

Disney XD launched successfully in early 2009. After seeing impressively high ratings with an American audience (50 million on launch day alone), Disney XD initiated a global expansion in the UK and Western Europe soon afterwards.