One of Our Own Makes Good — Again14 Sep, 2011 By: Thomas K. Arnold
It’s always gratifying to see one of our own make good, establish a name for himself outside of the confines of home entertainment.
Bob Chapek has made good for the second time in less than two years, and all of us who have worked alongside him for more years than I can recall should be very, very proud.
In what observers and analysts agree is a very smart move, the former president of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has been promoted to president of Disney Consumer Products, an expanded group that includes toys, books, apparel, DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, and video games. Chapek, who since November 2009 had been Disney’s distribution chief, now oversees a mighty consumer products empire that will handle retail and licensing across all of Disney’s businesses, from film to television and interactive media.
The restructuring gives Disney more clout than ever at retail, now that everything it sells is under one corporate roof. Media analyst David Miller, managing director of Caris & Co., told the Los Angeles Times he surmises Disney’s goal is to become “a one-stop shop for the Wal-Marts and all the big-box retailers looking for a place to go with all kinds of toys and consumer products.”
That Disney entrusts such a critical mission to Chapek isn’t surprising. Chapek, who joined Disney in 1993 after working in brand management for H.J. Heinz and in advertising for J. Walter Thompson, quickly made a name for himself in home entertainment for an approach that was at once strategic and visionary. He emerged as a de facto industry spokesman as he eloquently and convincingly pushed for new packaged media innovations such as Blu-ray Disc and 3D when standard DVD sales began to flatten, and at the same time tirelessly championed digital delivery mechanisms such as Disney’s cloud-based KeyChest initiative, which lets consumers buy a movie once and access it whenever they want on computers, notebooks, tablets and other portable devices.
Accordingly, he also broadened industry trade group DEG from a DVD champion into one that promotes all facets of home entertainment, both physical and digital.
Having known Chapek for quite a number of years, I can say this: He’s a true standup guy, honest, forthright and approachable. He’s also a very, very hard worker, thanks in no small part to a solid Midwestern upbringing in Hammond, Ind. As a boy, he was an altar server who showed up at St. John the Baptist Church promptly at 6 a.m., according to a story in his hometown newspaper. His dad was an oil refinery machinist; his mom worked at an insurance agency.
Bob Chapek truly is a self-made man. He may not have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he has a way of touching things and making them turn into gold.