CCFC Urges Baby Einstein to Come Clean with Parents; Advocates Document Years of Educational Claims

For Immediate Release

CCFC Urges Baby Einstein to Come Clean with Parents; Advocates Document Years of Educational Claims

BOSTON - The Campaign for a Commercial-Free
Childhood (CCFC) is pleased that Baby Einstein has acknowledged that
their videos for infants and toddlers are not educational, but calls on
the company to stop misleading parents about its past actions.

An examination of Baby Einstein's promotional materials over the years
-- both before and after the company was purchased by the Walt Disney
Company -- makes clear that Baby Einstein has built its brand on the
implication that its videos have developmental benefits for babies and
toddlers.

"The number one reason infants and toddlers watch television is that
their parents believe baby media is educational, an impression that was
fostered by Baby Einstein's marketing over the years," said CCFC's Dr.
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of education at Lesley University,
author of Taking Back Childhood and mother of actor Matt Damon. "We
hope that in light of this unprecedented refund offer, parents will be
reassured that their babies do not need videos in order to learn and
grow optimally."

On October 25, 2009, Susan McClain, Baby Einstein's General Manager, told Good Morning America,
"At the heart of what the brand has stood for from the very beginning
is exposure to beautiful things, sharing the arts and humanities with
parents and their babies . . . We have not claimed that we are
educational."  

Yet for
years, Baby Einstein's promotional materials were chock- full of claims
about the videos developmental benefits:

  • The very first Baby Einstein press release
    stated: "The Baby Einstein Company today announced the release of Baby
    Einstein, the first developmental video to combine visual and
    linguistic experiences that facilitate the development of the brain in
    infants ages one to 12 months." It also stated: "According to cognitive
    research, dedicated neurons in the brain's auditory cortex are formed
    by repeated exposure to phonemes, the unique sounds of language.
    Studies show that if these neurons are not used, they may die. Through
    exposure to phonemes in seven languages, Baby Einstein contributes to
    increased brain capacity."
  • A February 1, 1998 press release
    entitled, "Infants and Toddlers Can Increase Reasoning and Intelligence
    Through Mozart's Music," begins, "The Baby Einstein Company today
    unveiled Baby Mozart, the second in a series of educational videos
    aimed at facilitating the brain development of infants and toddlers."
    The release also quoted Baby Einstein founder Julie Aigner-Clark as
    saying, "parents who purchase the video for their babies can feel
    confident that their children are receiving a good head start."
  • In a February 13, 2000 press release,
    Ms. Aigner-Clark claimed, "By placing our titles in DVD format, we
    provide parents with a highly flexible, dynamic medium that can help
    youngsters learn" and that Baby Einstein was "offering families an
    increasingly broad range of healthy, developmental media for very young
    children."
  • A November 6, 2001 release
    announcing The Walt Disney Company's purchase of The Baby Einstein
    Company quoted Disney's president Robert Iger as saying, "We view this
    acquisition as a core element of our company-wide learning initiative
    for children."
  • In a May 1, 2003 press release
    for Baby Galileo, the Baby Einstein Company referred to itself as the
    "creator of the infant developmental media category" whose videos
    "captivate and stimulate babies' and toddlers' natural sense of
    curiosity."
  • Until Baby Einstein changed its marketing following CCFC's Federal Trade Commission complaint, the Baby Einstein website described its Baby Wordsworth DVD
    as a rich and interactive learning experience that introduces your
    little one to the concepts of verbal and written communication and sign
    language."

CCFC also urges Baby Einstein to stop launching personal attacks at CCFC staff
"The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a broad coalition of
parents, educators, healthcare professionals and researchers who care
about the wellbeing of children," said CCFC's Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, a
professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "It is disappointing
that Baby Einstein has chosen to attack our director, Dr. Susan Linn -
a tireless advocate on behalf of children and families -rather than
addressing the legitimate concerns about how they marketed their videos
and joining with us to provide honest information to parents."

To read CCFC's original statement on the Baby Einstein refund, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/babyeinsteinrefund.html.

For information about how to obtain a Baby Einstein refund, visit http://www.babyeinstein.com/(S(3qnoffi1whnnnt55h2ljk355))/parentsguide/satisfaction/upgrade_us.html.

To read CCFC's Federal Trade Commission complaint, visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/babyvideos/ftccomplaint.htm

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The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).

 

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