The FTC Has Filed a Complaint Against the Alleged ‘Your Baby Can Read’ Snake Oil SalesmenS

After Your Baby Can Read was shut down earlier this summer, it seemed like things had hit rock-bottom for the dubious infant literacy program. That, however, was before the Federal Trade Commission filed false advertising charges against the marketers of Your Baby Can Read, and the company's empire of reading DVDs collapsed like a house made of...infant literacy DVDs.

The FTC complaint (nb. the complaint does not constitute a finding or ruling that a company has violated the law) charges Your Baby Can, LLC., its former CEO Hugh Penton, Jr. and the product creator Robert Titzer, Ph.D. with false and deceptive advertising for claims in ads and product packaging that there was scientific research buttressing the cockeyed claim that Your Baby Can Read DVDs would actually help infants and toddlers get that leg-up over all their future Yale waitlist competition. The complaint also charges Titzer with making deceptive expert endorsements, deceptive in that Titzer is an admitted non-expert "as far as reading".

Titzer had intimated in endorsing his infant literacy program that it would help children as young as 9-months-old read, thereby giving precocious MFA babies a leg-up on all those people who claim to have read Ulysses, but have actually only ever read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and didn't really get the first, like, 40 percent of it. Penton and Your Baby Can have already agreed with the FTC to a settlement that imposes a $185 million judgment (selling kits at $200 a pop, Your Baby Can had raked in about $185 million, mostly in direct sales, since January 2008) on the company, and bars the defendants from using the term "Your Baby Can Read." The FTC said nothing, however, about the defendants going for a more visceral approach, something like, "Your Baby Can't Read Yet? OMG, WTF the Fuck Is Wrong with Your Parenting Skills? Do You How to Read?" but it might not be quite pithy enough, you know, in this the age of Twitter and music television.

Ads Touting "Your Baby Can Read" Were Deceptive, FTC Complaint Alleges [FTC]