October 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm by Ted Mininni
Quietly last year, the Disney Company began to market to the one youth demographic left to expose its brand to: newborns. New mothers in selected hospitals’ maternity wards received visits from Disney representatives who came bearing gifts for their infants: onesies dubbed Disney Cuddly Bodysuits. They were also urged to sign up for email tips at DisneyBaby.com.
New moms have received baby gift bags from hospitals for decades, of course. But Disney is also among a host of companies like Fisher-Price and Procter & Gamble that retain the services of Our365, a company that pays hospitals for access to moms to sell bedside baby pictures.
Naturally, this move led to debate about the merits of marketing to babies. Organizations like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, as well as some parents, have pushed back. But many other parents haven’t. While they don’t want their newborns overrun by marketers pushing their brands on them from every angle, Disney’s image is so clean, wholesome and warm, that many don’t seem to mind.
Northwestern University marketing professor and noted author, Philip Kotler, remarked to the New York Times in an article on the topic last year: “There are bound to be critics – moms and dads who think Disney is already too powerful a force in the lives of their children. 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.’... The strategy is frankly overdue, at least given Disney’s strong track record in other childhood niches.”
There’s no doubt that Disney has been extending its reach to baby in more ways than one. Licensing deals with Kimberly-Clark for Huggies diapers is one example. But focusing on Disney’s own powerful character brands and presenting them in a playful manner on apparel, bath items, baby food and strollers, among other baby-centric categories, exposes babies to Disney well before their toddler years in a concerted manner. Noted national retailers from Amazon.com to Nordstrom to Target have also hopped onto the Disney Baby bandwagon to sell clothing items and accessories.
Pre-schoolers are also being focused on by Disney. A new Disney Junior TV channel and web site focused on games, videos, stories and coloring book pages are designed to appeal to toddlers. And we all know that Disney is capable to making lasting, powerful impacts on children’s minds from a young age.
As wholesome as the overall Disney brand is, and its character brands are, the question remains: how young is too young?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Categories:Licensing, Consumer Products, Entertainment, Marketing to Kids, Marketing Thought Leadership