What Walt Disney knew about failure

May 17, 2022 | 3 minute read
Analisa Flores
Content Marketing Specialist, Oracle Advertising and CX
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what walt disney knew about failureDigital marketers, heed this lesson from a creative giant.

Failure and obstacles are inevitably attached to achieving greatness. While Walt Disney is remembered for his many successes like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Disneyland, he also saw his share of failures including a bankruptcy, a mental breakdown, a devastating strike, and the loss of control over his creation Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

He discussed these failures frankly. Disney once said, “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

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Use adversity as an opportunity in marketing campaigns

Success and unique innovations do not come overnight, Walt Disney himself was rejected more than 300 times before Mickey Mouse became a success. Overcoming adversity and shifting your perspective on success can make you more resilient, adaptable, and creative. As Walt himself put it, “It is good to have a failure while you’re young because it teaches you so much. For one thing, it makes you aware that such a thing can happen to anybody, and once you’ve lived through the worst, you’re never quite as vulnerable afterward.”

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Disneyland is regarded as the “happiest place on earth” and has been creating lifelong memories for families since 1955. But did you know that on opening day they had hundreds of people show up with counterfeit tickets, broken fountain drink stations, and malfunctioning rides? Despite all this, Disneyland bounced back from its opening day failures and became an astounding success.

Being able to bounce back from bad situations and come out on top are signs of a true fighting spirit. From the perspective of a marketer, Steve Pogson believes that “We learn from our mistakes and make the necessary adjustments until we succeed. Every decision we make, every person we encounter, and every piece of information we take in all contribute to a different outcome.”

There is so much that digital marketers, advertisers, and other CX professionals can learn from Walt Disney’s decision to succeed.

Get the magical idea out to your customers

Co-founder at Packet, Jacob Smith, shared this insight on the Often Imitated podcast about reaching and connecting with your customers and adapting to failure. He believes it’s important to consider “how do we find and make connections with these people, but importantly, you have to also decide how you gain their trust, right? And sometimes that means you have to go through some bad stuff together.”

If you can dream it, you can do it

Walt Disney didn’t let failure stop him. Instead, he turned it into a learning and growing experience. Overcome your marketing failures by using them as learning opportunities that will lead to future success. Success is often built on failure, and it can actually help inspire innovation and creativity.


Put this advice into action:

Analisa Flores

Content Marketing Specialist, Oracle Advertising and CX

Analisa is a Content Marketing Specialist for Oracle Advertising & CX. She works with the Modern Marketing Blog.


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