Marketing ICS: A Fire Prevention Marketing Success Story

The "Where's the Fire?" exhibit, at Walt Disney's Epcot has millions of visitors each year.


The alliance is a superb of example of public service marketing and how a corporate relationship can focus on a public issue. Since opening, millions of people from all over the country and around the world have visited this interactive experience. In one anecdotal case, lessons from the experience saved a group of middle school girls who attended a sleepover when a fire broke out in the house where they were sleeping. One of the girls who visited the experience remembered the fire safety lessons and led the group to safety at a meeting place outside the house.

Epcot receives millions of guests annually who visit four theme parks and Walt Disney World Resorts has one of the most enviable safety records on the planet. With millions people visiting annually and thousands of employees one can imagine how important safety must be in all aspects of life at the theme park. Disney's fire safety record is remarkable. Walt Disney World Resort is the most popular tourist destination in the world with millions of people visiting annually in the 43-square-mile park.

Just to understand how big it really is, think of putting three Manhattan islands in the area of Walt Disney World Resort. With almost 31,000 guest rooms and thousands of buildings, the fire safety codes and procedures are critical. Epcot was Walt Disney's dream of a community of the future. With a mission of "discovery" and "hope for tomorrow" Epcot seemed to be a natural place to offer something educational, yet entertaining to tackle the fire problem.

The Challenge
The challenge was to create an experience that could involve the guest, especially, children in an attraction so that they would retain the fire prevention message without becoming bored or frightened. Another challenge was to give a public education experience the same attention and dynamism of a firefighting experience. Disney's Imagineers, in coordination with Liberty Mutual's safety educators and the USFA have created a significant attraction to achieve these goals.

Disney's Tradition Of Safety
Achieving this goal was a daunting challenge, not only in the creation of the experience, but also in gaining the initial support from Walt Disney. Only an organization like the Walt Disney Company, and a company as committed as Liberty Mutual, could bring such a dream to reality.

First, it was necessary to convince senior management at Disney that such a venue could provide Epcot's guest with an interesting and engaging experience. Remember, we approached senior management in California and in Orlando before 9/11. We pointed out that such an endeavor was in keeping with Disney's four core values: safety, courtesy, show and efficiency. We noted that safety has always been Disney's first value, and fire safety has always been in the forefront.

Many years ago when Walt Disney World Resort was born, forward thinking Disney safety professionals made certain that the fire and building codes were the most advanced in the world. This fire safety standard became known as The Epcot Code. The original Epcot Code was a model for the country and was eventually adopted by NFPA as the basic fire and life safety code for the nation: NFPA 5000. In addition to thousands of advanced sprinkler systems and alarm points, Disney has five fully staffed fire stations with it's Reedy Creek Fire and Rescue.

Insurance In Action
Well before 9/11, we received the nod to approach potential alliance sponsors to work with us to fund and create the experience. Even with the strength of Disney branding, it was not easy to find a company and organization with the vision and commitment to support such an initiative. After months of dead-ends and rejections, we were fortunate to receive complete support from a corporation with the values and traditions of safety since its founding in 1912. The founders of Liberty Mutual believed that an insurance company shouldn't just protect its customers when accidents happen, but should work to prevent those accidents from happening in the first place. In 1941, the company's creed was written to reflect the concept of "insurance in action."

Such a mission is a bit different than other insurance companies. It enables people to help themselves as part of the protection process; somewhat like fire prevention. They called this a "great mutual enterprise" because the company and its customers were engaged in the enterprise together as a team. This individual empowerment is reflected in Liberty's present ad campaign devoted to responsibility.