Disney Will Own Your Baby, and Therefore You

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The Walt Disney Company is angling to start kids even earlier on the Disney brand (and take a slice of the $36.3 billion baby-market pie) with a program called Disney Baby, in which representatives visit new moms in U.S. maternity hospitals and give them free Disney Cuddly Bodysuits, which are basically Disney-branded Onesies. In the visit, reports the New York Times, the reps also ask moms to sign up for DisneyBaby.com email alerts, thereby starting what they hope will be a longstanding and profitable relationship. Own the baby, own the mother, so to speak.

To get access to the new moms, Disney is paying Our365 -- a company that pays hospitals for exclusive access to sell bedside baby pictures -- to promote Disney Baby products as well. Outside the hospital, Amazon will sell bodysuits, and Nordstrom and Target will sell other Disney Baby products.

Some are not fond of this development, citing the vulnerability of families at baby-birth time and the right to privacy. But parents have a hard time passing up free stuff, and apparently the clothing is quite cute. And Disney...they're so nice! Right?

This is by no means a new marketing technique, and yet, something in the corporate speak is disturbing, or maybe we just never had that good a time on Pirates of the Caribbean:

"Apparel is only a beachhead," said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.

Also planned are bath items, strollers, baby food and an abundance of other products -- all pushed with so much marketing muscle that Disney Baby may actually dent operating margins in Mr. Mooney's division in the near term. But this is a long-term play, and it could have its greatest value far beyond the crib. Disney Baby is also intended to draw mothers into the company's broader web of products and experiences.

Including the entire family's inevitable, necessary trips to Disney World.

"To get that mom thinking about her family's first park experience before her baby is even born is a home run," Mr. Mooney said.

Happy Disney Family = Even Happier Walt Disney Company.

Disney Looking Into Cradle for Customers [NYT]

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