Disney To Start Targeting Kids At Birth

Recovering from pushing a 7-pound human out of you is about to get even more fun! Now hours after giving birth, you'll get a visit from a Disney rep offering free onesies in exchange for a lifetime of consumer loyalty.

After executives realized that Disney doesn't own the newborn market (3-month-olds lack the ability to beg Mommy to buy them a Disney Princess bike), the company hatched a plot to encourage moms to buy the new Disney Baby line by giving away free Disney Cuddly Bodysuits while they're still in the maternity ward.

The New York Times reports:

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. More than 200,000 bodysuits will be given away by May, when Amazon.com is set to begin selling 85 styles for a starting price of $9.99 for two; Nordstrom and Target will follow with more Disney Baby items, including hats.

Disney has gained access to hospitals by partnering with a company called Our365, which sells bedside baby pictures and already pushes products from Fisher-Price and Procter & Gamble. No one is forcing parents to buy anything, they're just being asked to turn over their personal information and subject themselves to Disney's aggressive marketing techniques.

If you're up for tangling with a pushy rep in your weakened state, you can just kick them out of your room. And of course, there are some parents have no problem with Disney entering their hospital room (or perhaps they're just powerless to resist the allure of free shit). From the Times:

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.

You'd have to be pretty cold-hearted to keep your precious newborn in hideous hospital attire when all the other babies are sporting sassy Disney apparel. Sure, you can let your kid be ostracized for her fashion choices by the rest of the nursery, but you're the one who's going to have to pay the therapy bills.

Not that Disney Baby is only about clothes. In the past the company's baby wares were limited to licensing deals with other companies that make products for infants. Under the new brand, moms will able to give their little ones Disney Baby food, bath items, strollers, and so much more! Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products, says he's working on a loyalty program for pregnant women which may allow them to receive free theme park tickets. "To get that mom thinking about her family's first park experience before her baby is even born is a home run," he explains.

That pretty much sums up the problem with Disney Baby. There's currently no shortage of Winnie the Pooh baby gear, and let's be honest — a lot of it is really cute. But when Disney puts its full marketing force behind a brand it has incredible influence. Just as Disney Princess, which is Disney Baby's business model, has taken over the little girl market with its questionable messages about what it is to be female, Disney has the power to shape American babyhood. There's absolutely no reason for a pregnant woman to be thinking about her child's first trip to a theme park. If Mooney gets his way, will new parents start feeling pressure to save up for baby's first vacation?

Disney's plans sound a lot like a nefarious plot to brainwash parents, but despite what all the Mickey-haters say, the company isn't evil — it's just out to make money. A free onesie is essentially harmless. You could refuse it or give a fake email address. (Suggestion: Say you're sinderella69@gmail.com or LoinKingXXX@aol.com and see what face the rep makes.) But Disney's move into the maternity ward is disturbing proof that there's no longer any aspect of our lives that isn't influenced by consumerism.

Disney Looking Into Cradle For Customers [NYT]