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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

wtf: Disney going after the lucrative newborn demo

Be afraid: Disney officially begins harvesting the souls of your children. From Yahoo! Finance:

Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.

In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com.

Next up: Disney encourages wannabe moms to track their menstrual cycles on DisneyPeriod.com, so Mickey Mouse can be the first to congratulate them on being a few days late.

“If ever there was an opportunity for a trusted brand to enter a market and provide a better product and experience, it’s this,” said Robert A. Iger, chief executive of Disney. “I’m extremely excited about it.”

See? It’s not evil. It’s a better experience. Enjoy life more with Disney at your side, and in your wallet!

Elizabeth Carter gave birth to her daughter Olivia on Jan. 19 in Piedmont, Calif., and was given a Disney Cuddly Bodysuit as part of an Our365 photo package. “It surprised me that Disney was in there promoting something right as the baby was born, but we figured as new parents we weren’t in a position to turn free things down,” she said.

Mrs. Carter put the garment on her hours-old baby immediately. “And I have to say Olivia looked fabulous, much better than the rough, bulky thing the hospital had her wearing,” she said.

In other words: “I was a little concerned when baby Olivia cried, ‘C’mon, Mom, let’s go to Disney World!’ but– oo, shiny!”

[T]he company does not intend to stop with bodysuits, which are playfully adorned with Disney characters like Simba from “The Lion King.” Also planned are bath items, strollers, baby food and an abundance of other products — all pushed with so much marketing muscle that Disney Baby may actually dent operating margins in Mr. Mooney’s division in the near term. But this is a long-term play, and it could have its greatest value far beyond the crib. Disney Baby is also intended to draw mothers into the company’s broader web of products and experiences. Mr. Mooney is working on a loyalty program, for instance, in which pregnant women might receive free theme park tickets in return for signing up for e-mail alerts.

“To get that mom thinking about her family’s first park experience before her baby is even born is a home run,” Mr. Mooney said, adding that a surprisingly large number of families do not become consumers of Disney products until their children reach preschool age, when they start to watch Disney Channel programs like “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

What the fuck is wrong with these parents that they’re not inculcating their children with the Disney LifeStyle(TM) before preschool? Don’t they fear their precious offspring will be left behind? Surely they must worry about the day with little Aidan or adorable Ashley, who’ve been raised as Disney atheists, come home from pre-pre-K cram school and ask, “Mommy, who’s Bambi?”

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.”

Translation: “I can be bought cheap.”

Professor [Philip] Kotler [a marketing professor at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University] 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.’ ”

Which makes me think about that joke that ends with, “Lady, we know what you are. Now we’re just haggling about the price.”

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