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Denise Edelmaier, EMBA student at Stetson University at Celebration, successfully juggles both school and her full-time job as the Plush and Doll Product Developer for Disney Parks and Resorts Merchandise. Denise started the EMBA program Aug. 13, 2010. Since then, she has managed to launch a successful new product line around a “beary” new Disney character named Duffy the Disney Bear.

Duffy officially launched at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim on Oct. 14, 2010, to rave reviews. Duffy’s merchandise assortment includes 12-inch pre-dressed bears, a 17-inch bear with more than 10 unique costumes to choose from and dress him in, a 28-inch Duffy that is so huggable you won’t be able to put him down, a keychain, a magnet and more.

In addition to the expansive product line around Duffy, the parks launched a fully integrated strategy that includes a meet-and-greet Duffy character in Epcot and California Adventure, food and beverage treats, children’s activity placemats, and a create your own Duffy activity in Epcot where Guests can take him to each country and decorate him any way they choose. If you happen to be in either park, you will find Duffy dressed in his signature sailor attire as we welcome him back from world travels with his owner, Mickey.

Disney Bear was originally created by the Disney Design art team here in Orlando using Mickey as the inspiration; Duffy has a Mickey Mouse shaped face and a Mickey-shaped birthmark on his hip. Two years later, Tokyo Disney Resort adopted Disney Bear to be fresh content for Tokyo Disney Seas Park. The story behind the bear was: Minnie made a bear for Mickey to keep him company on his world travels. Mickey named him “Duffy” because Minnie gave him the bear in a duffel bag. Eventually Duffy became a character in the Tokyo Disney Seas park, and over a 5-year period, Duffy became one of the most sought-after souvenirs in the Japanese resort and a coveted collectible by Japanese women ages 20-35.

Duffy is going global as part of the “One Disney” strategy. Disney Parks Entertainment, Marketing, Food and Beverage, Tokyo Disney Seas, Hong Kong Disneyland and U.S. Disney Parks are all leveraging the same company-owned intellectual property.

Duffy’s success is a great example of successful marketing synergy and globalization which Denise is learning more about as part of her Stetson EMBA curriculum. Denise says she has one of the most fun jobs at Disney, getting to dress and play with bears. But her role also requires influencing strategic direction and leading a team, which are both good reasons to further her education.

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