Should Disney court newborn customers … in the hospital?

The Walt Disney Company has started a new product line and marketing campaign aimed at newborns.

Mothers of newborns are used to getting little packages of baby products at the hospital – sometimes it’s formula (although that has been criticized for discouraging mothers from nursing), sometimes diapers or diaper cream. But starting last month, mothers in 580 hospitals around the United State also got a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the Onesie.

The New York Times reports that the mothers received bedside demonstrations from bilingual representatives about the new body suits and asking them to sign up for email alerts.  Disney estimates the North American baby market to be worth $36.3 billion annually.

The NYT reports that Disney has been trying reach an even younger audience than their Princess fans – including my two daughters. Feb. 14, Disney will debut new channel aimed at preschool viewers – Disney Junior. Plus Disneyland is starting a It’s A Small World tie in with the new Disney Baby line. Also a new Pooh movie will be in theaters in July.

From The New York Times:

“Rachel Bernstein, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who is pregnant herself, said she was concerned about marketers using hospitals as customer hunting grounds. ‘But Disney is a nice company,” she said, “and I think my patients would actually be thrilled to get free Disney stuff.’ ”

“The strategy is ‘frankly overdue, at least given Disney’s strong track record in other childhood niches,’ said Philip Kotler, a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University and co-author of ‘Marketing 3.0: From Products to Customers to the Human Spirit.’ ”

“But Professor Kotler added one asterisk. ‘There are bound to be critics — moms and dads who think Disney is already too powerful a force in the lives of children,’ he said. “Disney needs those moms who are getting a free sample to stand up and say, ‘Yes, I’m savvy enough to realize what Disney is up to, but I don’t care because this is a really great product.’ ”

I don’t care how the great the product is; I wouldn’t want any strangers in my hospital room after I gave birth – even on the second day. Also mothers are trying to absorb so much information about how to care for their newborns and are so exhausted that it just seems like they are way too vulnerable to defend themselves against marketing!

We are a Disney family. Half of their toys are Disney. We watch multiple Disney Channels. We see Disney movies. We go to Disney World. I have no problems with them offering baby stuff but I am creeped out by the coming into the hospital room.

What do you think of the idea of a baby line from Disney? Do you mind them coming into the hospitals? Do you mind them courting the youngest children? Will you watch the new Disney Junior channel? (My 3-year-old has seen the ads and wants to see that show with the pirate and the crocodile.)

42 comments Add your comment

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February 8th, 2011
6:38 am

That seems awfully invasive just after you have your baby. I got tired of the nurses coming in and out all the time and that’s their job! I really don’t want to Disney coming in doing their marketing spiel that early.


February 8th, 2011
6:49 am

When I was a new mom I LOVED the free stuff…in fact I used my freebie Diaperbag from the hospital throughout my son’s babyhood. But wow, to have a marketing rep come in the hospital room feels a bit much. Why can’t they just give it to the moms without invading their space. What’s next, Salespeople from formula and diaper companies coming in the room to do a sales pitch? Maybe powerpoint presentations on the tv while giving birth???? After having a baby and going through all the emotions and dealing with the “WHAT DO I DO” newness of the first time mom it seems wrong to intrude on all that with a sales pitch. Just my humble opinion.


February 8th, 2011
7:02 am

no. i barely wanted my friends and family there-i just wanted to hold and look at my baby. i would have told them to leave…disney product or not. pretty ridiculous. just put it in the bag with all the other freebis or keep it. dont come marketing to my just given birth room. HE11 NO.


February 8th, 2011
7:07 am

They come into your room while you’re still in the hospital after giving birth? I draw the line there. Why not leave a flyer or something and then the moms can choose to sign up for their emails and then they ship the onesie. But then of course Disney might lose their opportunity to suck in yet another customer! I’m fine with Disney and we go to Disney World and everything, but this is really intrusive.

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February 8th, 2011
7:38 am

Respectfully, I do not care about this topic. Have a nice day all. TWG thanks for getting me Misty’s e-mail…we have already connected and now I have another friend to meet, from the blog! Hope she is not disappointed that I may not be as normal as she expected…;)


February 8th, 2011
8:13 am

Sure – bring them in! Let’s embrase Capitalism to the full extend we American’s do as consumers. Exploit yourself for corporate profits! Have Disney film the crowning and superimpose mouse ears as Junior pops out of the birth canal.


February 8th, 2011
8:13 am

is it just me or couldn’t the mom or the dad just tell the rep to leave if you do not want the intrusion or the products. If you want the products for free, then put up with the pitch.


February 8th, 2011
8:20 am

Come on people, it’s not like the rep is barging into the room. They ask you if they can come in, just as a reverend or priest does once the baby is born. You have the option to say ‘no.’


February 8th, 2011
8:39 am

I was all for free stuff right after I had kids. We did use the free diaper bag and I donated the free formula to a local food bank. Donated the coupons we got later on also. I really don’t see how the clothing line is something new. Disney has long had baby clothes. The marketing rep on the other hand. If they are offering lots of good freebies in exchange for my time, I can imagine letting them in. I don’t see how their spiel is going to increase their market share in clothes that much. Don’t most people buy baby clothes based on price and overall look not on brand name?


February 8th, 2011
8:40 am

I’m sorry, but DisneyWorld/Land is no place for young kids, especially newborn kids. Just my sorta-kinda-but-not-really humble opinion.

Having just had a new addition to our family, I can tell you that had anybody that was not family or a nurse/doctor of the hospital knocked on the door they would have been told “go away” in unison followed by a clunking sound of something hitting the door.

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February 8th, 2011
8:55 am

This blog needs to be changed to “Disneymania”……..

☺☻ Black & white smiley faces

February 8th, 2011
9:21 am

I wonder what Clark Howard would think about it?

…but it’s FREE! :D


February 8th, 2011
9:24 am

Let ‘em do it. The mom or dad always has the right to say “No” or “Come back later”.

I know the day after my e-c-section I wouldn’t have wanted somebody in there hawking Disney stuff but I might have been willing to listen the day of my discharge.


February 8th, 2011
9:36 am

I don’t see how this is any different than the other companies giving out freebies in the hospital. I welcomed it all. Gave away the formula because I believed in 100% breast milk for babies, but the rest of the stuff was welcomed. I also would have welcomed anyone demonstrating “how to” for various baby items. I am the oldest of six so I had changed a few diapers in my day, but I still would have liked a little help the first morning after my daughter was born. Even after I called for help, the nurses left me on my own to figure it out for another 30 minutes.

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February 8th, 2011
9:43 am

I don’t mind if they want to leave me a goodie bag, just like the formula companies do. I got several bags of stuff when my son was born. But NO WAY do I want a demo in my room about the products!!! The darn nurses interrupt enough. I don’t need strangers in my room around my baby bringing in who knows what kind of germs and bothering me in the precious few moments of peace you get in the hospital!!


February 8th, 2011
10:24 am

It’s up to the parents to say “yes” or “no” to the sales pitch. Disney’s just out to make money like every other company out there. Nothing wrong with that, although I do think a presentation so soon after giving birth is a bit much. But the parents can opt out of that too. Or if the sales rep is a bit pushy, you could start nursing the baby right then, or talk about how you have to really get that first #2 after having a baby out… Plenty of possibilities.


February 8th, 2011
10:36 am

I don’t know when they would have had time to visit after my daughter was born. She was born at 5 in the morning, then there was the rush and making calls to inform everyone, visits from friends and family. I did send her father home to get some sleep and the evening was again filled with family visiting, the next morning I was on the way home. Not once did a lactation consultant visit. There was also talk about clases on how to give a bath other things for new parents. If they only keep you just over 24 hours, when do then plan for you to attend class? or have marketing visit your room. The morning of our departure, we had the paperwork for birth certificate, SSN, and first baby photos. Which I think was the only reason we were at the hospital until 10 am. It felt like they wanted us out.


February 8th, 2011
10:45 am

I don’t know why it’s any different than the 2 formula reps, the “early reading” rep, the hospital admin person just checking to see how my stay was (it would be A LOT better if all of you would leave me alone!), the WIC and DFACS representative and the constant barrage of nurses and lactation people who I did NOT want constantly coming in! At least I would get a cute, free onesie! For my second baby, I made a sign in advance that we hung on the door that said, “Unless you’re a nurse who MUST enter for a medical reason, I don’t want your visitation. I read to my babies and I know all about breastfeeding and formula, and I don’t qualify for or want WIC or any government help. Thanks and have a good day!” I wasn’t bothered!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

February 8th, 2011
10:48 am

“Do you mind them courting the youngest children?”

Disney isn’t courting the children…Disney is courting the parents. Children have no money, no credit cards and aren’t (or shouldn’t be) sophisticated enough to buy crap or accept free crap from Disney. The only thing children have is the ability to pester their parents into submission so that they open their wallets. If the parents don’t have the stones to say “no” to Disney or their children (who Disney is just courting indirectly to get at the parents), then the parents deserve the harrassment.


February 8th, 2011
11:03 am

As with anything — you take what you’re interested in and dump the rest. Disney isn’t “evil” because they are exercising a new marketing technique — and it isn’t even a new one, based on the stuff I was getting 20 year ago, and I’m sure it’s only increased since then!

I do think a personal rep popping in is a bit much, but it’s not as though parents haven’t heard of Disney, y’know? If I didn’t want to talk to them, I’d just say, “No, thanks, this isn’t a good time.” and let it go at that — just like I do with Jehovahs Witnesses at the front door.

And no, I won’t be watching “Disney Junior” — thank goodness!


February 8th, 2011
12:07 pm

It’s up to the hospitals to keep them out. If they aren’t legally trespassing, why not market where you can?

If you don’t like it, let them know, and let them know that you won’t be supporting any of their products.

Companies listen with their pocketbooks.


February 8th, 2011
12:12 pm

As for giving away formula as discouragement from nursing…come on.

Has there ever been ONE mother who was thinking, “Well, I was going to breast feed my child for the next several months, but now I’ve got this one free small can of formula. I think I’ll just feed them this.”


February 8th, 2011
12:17 pm

I’m really surprised to hear so many stories of maternity ward ‘visits’ from reps. Other than immediate family, I didn’t have ANY visits during my 4-day stay, and that’s how I think it should be. Except – of course, and ad nauseum – the nurses. DD roomed-in with me, so we were hunkered down for the most part until I begged to go home early.

I got tons of freebies in the mail ahead of time, and some were in the room, and that’s great, but the last thing I want is a surprise pop-in from a stranger when I haven’t washed my hair in 2 days. I will count on Hubs to act as a bouncer the next time, just as he probably did the last time (and I just don’t remember) :o)


February 8th, 2011
12:31 pm

Loved the freebee stuff too when I was a new mommbie. I was not trying to “absorb” all kinds of info…what info are you asborobing? I remember being very bored with the hospital, very enthralled with my baby, and ready to go home after the first night with both my children.


February 8th, 2011
2:29 pm

Get over it.
They give out free tooth care products at the kiddie dentist office, don’t they?
This is just another progression.

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February 8th, 2011
4:46 pm

I’m curious; working in a hospital as I do… Our labor and delivery floors are locked units. You have to be announced and recognized before going into those wards. Security, y’know? How do you truly know that this is a Disney rep coming in? Are they vetted by the hospital before they can come onto the ward? What happens if something were to go awry? Who is responsible, the hospital? Disney?

We got free stuff (bottles, bag, formula, etc) when we left the hospital, but it was from a nurse who said here you go and congratulations. Not from someone we didn’t know.


February 8th, 2011
5:13 pm

@ Wayne….what do you mean locked? I have visited with new mothers and simply dropped in. You just get off the elevator and head down the hall. Did I miss something?

TWG…are the hospitals like that now in Gwinnett? It has been a while since I was inside one.

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February 9th, 2011
10:49 am

For our son, I remember the “photo” lady knocking and asking to come in. I was happy to have her take a picture of our little guy and to purchase stuff – more than I probably needed naturally – because I wasn’t thinking quite straight at that point.

As for a Disney rep, from what Theresa said, it doesn’t sound like the reps barged into the rooms – it is not clear from the information. If they knocked like others, or were suggested by the nurses, my interest level would be stronger.


February 9th, 2011
10:53 am

Yeah, wierd, I know. Just a little while ago they instituted this ‘plan’. I think it is to keep the number of folks who wander around a labor and delivery floor down to a minimum. It’s not that you can’t visit, but now you just have to announce yourself before you come onto the floor.

If anyone has stayed in a hospital, you know how noisy it can be in the hallways what with employees, visitors, etc. wandering about.


February 10th, 2011
12:07 am

These companies have gone too far — Market in the hallways, in the cafeteria, or AT LEAST give women the ability to opt out of these intrusions during pre-registration. I’d like to ask the wives of the *men* who thought up this *untapped market venue* if they would appreciate someone interrupting their sleep and recovery, or their baby’s feeding or her stitches checkup to sign up for email alerts!! Disney (along with any other company) should be ashamed of themselves for not respecting women’s space after DELIVERY!!! Disney just lost my respect, and my business for this idiocy!

Bruce Lockhart

February 10th, 2011
1:38 pm

First of all, think of all of the germs that people bring on their hands and clothes into your room and into your new baby’s environment. A new baby’s immune systems is not yet functiong fully and should not be exposed to any viruses and germs from non- family members. We all have to put up with telemarketers selling us everything at home, so Disney thinks that we should now have to put up with them doing the same thing in the delivery room? Mr. Eisner (the CEO of Disney) just had a grandchild. Im willing to bet that HIS family didnt have to put up with ANY intrusions such as this in the delivery room.

Q&A: What Disneyworld/land is the most fun?

February 11th, 2011
10:52 am

[...] Should Disney court newborn customers … in the hospital … [...]

By the Numbers

February 14th, 2011
8:17 am

[...] 580 – Mothers in 580 hospitals around the United State got a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the Onesie, along with other traditional baby products. It’s part of the Walt Disney Company starting a new product line and marketing campaign aimed at newborns. [...]