Just when you thought they were everywhere, the folks at Disney have decided to expand their reach — right into the hospital rooms of parents who have just welcomed a new baby.
Late last month, the company quietly handed out free Disney Baby bodysuits, to mothers in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A bilingual Disney representative visited new parents with bedside parenting demonstrations and free goodies, all while asking them to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com. More than 200,000 bodysuits will be given away by May, when the bodysuits will go on sale at Amazon.com, Nordstrom and Target.
How did Disney worm its way into the maternity ward? The company gains access through another business, Our365, which sells bedside baby pictures. Our365 pays hospitals for exclusive access, and companies like Disney pay Our365 to promote their products. Do parents know about any of the backside "exclusive access" deals? Probably not.
Disney as a whole is working harder to reach younger children, with a new channel for preschool viewers slated to arrive on Feb. 14, and a new "Winnie the Pooh" movie scheduled to arrive in theaters in July.
So, is there any harm in Disney handing out the gear and marketing info to parents in the hospital? Surely, formula makers and diaper companies have been doing it for years, and at least in this instance, parents get a fairly practical piece of clothing rather than a can of formula that might discourage moms who might otherwise choose to breastfeed.
I'm a little hesitant about the plan. For starters, new parents are way too vulnerable in those first few days after their baby is born. They are already in "form fill-out" mode, so those who might otherwise turn the channel or click to another website would more easily give out their personal information to a real, live person who appears to be associated with the hospital.
Yes, I know Disney is aware of this, and that is exactly why they are pursuing the baby market. But does that make it right?
What do you think? Is Disney Baby the next cute thing to hit the market or the next humongous marketing scam that you will steer clear of?