For Immediate Release
Advocates for Children Call on Hospitals to Rid Maternity Wards of Marketers; Newborns and Their Moms Shouldn’t be Pitched to by Disney...or Any Other Company
BOSTON - In light of recent revelations that the Walt Disney Company is marketing its new Disney Baby line directly to new moms and their babies in birthing hospitals, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is calling on hospitals around the country to rid their maternity wards of invasive marketers. According to the New York Times, Disney has hired Our365, a company that pays hospitals for the exclusive right to sell baby pictures, to promote Disney Baby during its photographers’ visits with new mothers. CCFC has mobilized its activist network to call hospitals and urge them to expel any marketers--including those masquerading as photographers--from their maternity wards.
“It’s reprehensible for marketers to inject themselves into the relationship between a mother and her baby at birth,” said CCFC’s director Dr. Susan Linn. “Those amazing first moments of a newborn’s life should be one hundred percent commercial-free.”
Our365 describes itself as “America’s largest provider of newborn portraits and a leading relationship marketing company serving moms.” When its photographers offer their in-hospital services to new mothers, they frequently present them with a gift bag filled with offers and products from their marketing partners. As part of its arrangement with Disney, Our365 photographers talk up the Disney Baby line, offer a free Disney Baby onesie, and urge moms to sign up for email updates from DisneyBaby.com. Other Our365 marketing partners include Proctor and Gamble, Fisher Price, and The Children’s Place.
“Our365 is exploiting its privileged position in hospitals,” said Dr. Linn. “The price of a newborn’s portrait shouldn’t include being subjected to invasive marketing pitches.”
The Disney partnership is not the first time Our365’s presence in hospitals has caused a major controversy. In 2009, breastfeeding advocates accused Our365 of sharing the personal information of its photography subjects with Mead Johnson, the makers of Enfamil baby formula. Mothers who purchased a newborn portrait from Our365 reported receiving formula samples and coupons in the mail.
“Hospitals should not aid, abet, or profit from Our365’s marketing schemes,” said Mary Beth Miotto, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician in Northborough, Massachusetts. “They should protect and nurture new babies and their moms instead of exploiting them. If Our365 persists in using photographers to promote products in maternity wards, then hospitals should show them the door.”
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).