Alright, after a weekend off, I am ready to take a more level-headed look at this Disney Baby thing. The world's obviously not going to end when Disney characters start appearing on newborn gear and clothing or nursery walls or even strollers--because they've been there all along, on thousands of licensed products. Your kid may be peeing into a Buzz Lightyear Huggie this very minute.
I think the thing that creeps some folks out is the part of the Times story where a Disney Baby "representative" is marketing those Disney Cuddly Bodysuits bedside in the maternity ward recovery room. Here's the scene:
In this new venture, the company gains access to the maternity hospitals through a company called Our365, a business that sells bedside baby pictures. Our365 pays hospitals for exclusive access, and companies like Disney pay Our365 to promote their own products. Our365 also has Fisher-Price and Procter & Gamble as clients. It is unclear whether mothers know of Our365's financial ties to these companies.Ah yes, replacing the "rough bulky thing" the styleless hospital staff put on with a "fabulous" Lion King Onesie, an offer the new parents couldn't refuse.
Elizabeth Carter gave birth to her daughter Olivia on Jan. 19 in Piedmont, Calif., and was given a Disney Cuddly Bodysuit as part of an Our365 photo package. "It surprised me that Disney was in there promoting something right as the baby was born, but we figured as new parents we weren't in a position to turn free things down," she said.
Mrs. Carter put the garment on her hours-old baby immediately. "And I have to say Olivia looked fabulous, much better than the rough, bulky thing the hospital had her wearing," she said.
And I realize, Paying hospitals for exclusive marketing access to their newborn patients? Our365? Of course! They've been on Daddy Types before! In excruciating business case detail!
A quick refresher:
BUT FIRST A QUICK UPDATE: In the comments below, MikeT reports the Our365 marketer who pitched them was actually wearing scrubs. Whether she was a moonlighting nurse, or just posing as one, it sounds really sketchy. OK, read on...
Our365 is a private-equity-backed rollup of four in-hospital baby picture companies, the largest and oldest of which was called Growing Family. In 2009, they said they had exclusive deals with "some 2100 hospitals" in the US, and for almost a decade, they've been trying to use their photo op as a wedge to sell baby gifts and photo books to the new kids' friends and family.
And apparently, Our365 has also been selling bedside access to new moms to other companies. I've looked for reports of partnerships with Fisher-Price and P&G, though, and I've come up mostly empty. Last summer, Our365 announced the launch of their "partner Fisher-Price's" Facebook app "on their sad little Twitter account, and P&G, of course, makes Pampers, so maybe there's a deal for sampling. But otherwise, Disney Baby's promo deal is the big news for Our365.
So let's take a closer look at it.
Today Our365's website claims partnerships with 2000 hospitals, down from 18 months ago, but the Disney Baby campaign, which began in January, targets just 580 hospitals. Here's how it goes down:
In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product's bells and whistles -- extra soft! durable! better sizing! -- and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com. More than 200,000 bodysuits will be given away by May...Maybe Disney is selecting those locations, but more likely, Our365 is still dealing with a hard-to-exploit patchwork of legacy agreements with hospitals. [For example, Our365 pays some hospitals extra to have nurses snap the photos. It's easy to imagine how, from a quality control perspective, the company would rather have their own marketers cozy up to the new moms. OR maybe they could train the L&D nurses to deliver their advertisers' pitches: "Sure, I'll hand over your new baby, just as soon as I tell you about the gentle cleansing power of Tide Fragrance Free!"]
Anyway, 200,000 units, 580 hospitals, six months, we're talking about two measly giveaways a day. Company-wide, Our365 claims to "capture more than 4,000 babies' first moments" each day, so the 2/day metric sounds right. Which means Our365 is reaching more than a third [36%] of the 11,000 kids born in the US each day, and Disney's tapping about 30% of those, or about 10%.
So. There's obviously a tight geographic concentration, but nationwide, there's a 1 in 3 chance a new parent gets Our365's pitch, and a 1 in 10 chance they get Disney's. How was it? What was it like? What'd you buy? Does your hospital have a deal with Our365? How's that going?