Disney appoints chief brand officer amid cost-saving efforts and firings

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

The Walt Disney Co. tapped Asad Ayaz to become the company’s inaugural chief brand officer.

The April 6 announcement of Ayaz’s ascension to the new role came as the mass media conglomerate made moves to reduce spending, such as the layoff of over 7,000 employees and firing its chairman for Marvel Entertainment the week prior.

Disney CEO Bob Iger will oversee Ayaz in his position. He praised Ayaz in a press release, calling him an “exceptional creative leader with a deep understanding” of the company’s meaning and value to people worldwide.

“His taking on this is particularly noteworthy and consequential as we commemorate our 100th anniversary,” Iger added. “I am confident that his strategic, operational, and creative prowess, along with his profound passion for Disney, will make him an outstanding steward of our stories, character, brands and franchises.”

Ayaz will handle highlighting Disney’s massive brand on a global scale. In addition, he will oversee the “Disney100” campaign as his appointment coincides with Disney’s 100-year anniversary. His recent work included leading the development of the “Disney100 Special Look” television spot that aired during this year’s Super Bowl.

The new CBO is also the executive behind Disney Studios’ new logo that celebrates the 100-year anniversary, which now appears on all Disney branded films.

“Throughout both my early life and my time at the company, I’ve marveled at the power of Disney’s storytelling, experiences, and simply the name itself to inspire people and resonate through generations,” Ayaz said, according to a press release. “I am immensely grateful to Bob for entrusting me with this duties, and I’m excited to work with the amazing teams around our company to highlight all the things that make Disney exceptional and ensure that we continue to create those meaningful connections with audiences for many more generations to come.”

Ayaz had served as Disney’s president of marketing and distribution, a position he has held since 2018. His responsibility included overseeing the marketing and distribution of all Disney films globally, including theatrical releases, home entertainment and digital distribution.

He joined Disney in 2013 as the executive vice president of marketing for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. 

He has played a key role in the successful releases of a number of Disney films, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, the “Star Wars” franchise and the live-action adaptations of classic Disney animated films. Before joining the company, Ayaz worked in marketing for DreamWorks Animation and the studio previously known as Fox Searchlight Pictures.Disney’s finances have made headlines recently for a variety of reasons, ranging from layoffs and shifts in leadership to political and social backlash from the public. 

Most notably, Florida, the state where the Walt Disney World Resort is located, stripped the media giant of its special tax breaks because of the company’s stance against a state law that was commonly called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

Iger called out the state government’s actions against the media giant as “anti-business.”

In addition to facing socio-political attacks, Disney has also dealt with major layoffs in the company. Iger confirmed this in a staff email sent out to Disney employees about multiple rounds of layoffs. Around 7,000 jobs were planned to be cut by June as part of a $5.5 billion cost-saving plan.

The first round of layoffs was mainly in Disney’s television production and acquisitions departments. The most notable layoff came from Marvel Entertainment ChairIsaac Perlmutter, who was furloughed in March and criticized the company for the move in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

“I have no doubt that my termination was based on fundamental differences in business between my thinking and Disney leadership, because I care about return on investment,” Perlmutter told The Wall Street Journal.