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.
“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.)