Disney recently started an ambitious program, Disney Baby, that will put company representatives in 580 maternity wards across the country peddling Disney baby products to mothers who just gave birth. It doesn’t surprise me that Disney is extending its brand to dominate this newborn market. This is Disney, the brand champion; it’s what they do. But, what is a bit disconcerting about this, is the strategy they are using to do it.
About five years ago when I learned I was pregnant, I immediately started getting bombarded with post cards or emails asking me to sign up to mailing lists. I’m not sure how these companies discovered I was pregnant but it was fine because most of these requests came with free baby gifts. So months before I gave birth, I had already received countless cans of formula, diapers, creams, nail kits and other products for my baby. Even in the hospital room, diaper bags filled with wipes and more formula was there waiting for me. And before being released, I was given the choice of either a car seat or stroller. It was great!
So what makes Disney’s program different from all the other companies trying to target new mothers and babies? Well, I didn’t have a Gerber representative sitting in my room after 18 hours of labor trying to tell me about what makes Gerber so grand. According to the New York Times, Disney will use bedside demonstrations to market their products and ask mothers to sign up for email alerts from Disneybaby.com. Really Disney? This is one of the most important times in people’s lives. It is a time when mothers are balancing feelings of utter joy and pure exhaustion. And while still in the hospital with the help and care of nurses, we are trying to savor our last moments of peace before taking our newborn home and having to fend for ourselves. Do you really think we want to talk to a Disney representative who will spend our precious moments talking about how Disney onesies (those are baby bodysuits for those of you who are unfamiliar with baby talk) will remain soft and durable even after washing?
The whole thing reminds me of a time share presentation. How they promise you a free trip if you sit through a 90-minute presentation. None of us really want to do it, but we really need that free trip. So to Disney, I say this for all new mothers: “Just give me the damn gift and get out!” You will rarely hear this sentiment from parents as you are approaching them during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. Because like new mother Elizabeth Carter told the New York Times, we need those gifts.