Yesterday, The New York Times reported on what many are calling a "disturbing" new direction for the Walt Disney Company. To build buzz for its new Disney Baby product line, which debuts in May, the company is targeting extremely new mothers... in maternity wards. At 580 hospitals across the country, a marketing company hired by Disney will hand out hundreds of thousands of free "Disney Cuddly Bodysuits" (aka Disney-branded onesies), demonstrating the products to moms at their bedside, and signing them up for Disney Baby email alerts. Is this ingenious marketing, or is Disney taking salesmanship too far?

Disney is infringing on a sacred time and place: "The maternity ward is not a place for anyone to be receiving sales pitches," says Lauren Flynn Kelly at The Stir. It's a "sacred place," and vulnerable new mothers are likely to "say yes to anything." It's especially "disturbing" that Disney's representatives are trying to disguise their sales pitch as help for new mothers.
"Disney preys on new moms in maternity ward "

This is just an extension of Disney's worst tendencies: Disney and its princess merchandise already "consume our preschool-age daughters," and now "they want want our infants too," says Melissa Brand at Technorati. Enough already. While it's not "inherently bad" for little kids to want Disney items, "marketing to children... promotes blind consumerism." While I "love Disney movies," all their marketing and merchandising has an "insidious influence" on parents and children, especially when it's brought into the maternity ward.
"Disney wants to have your baby"

C'mon, this is smart business: This marketing plan is "frankly overdue," says Philip Kotler, a marketing professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, as quoted in The New York Times. Disney has done well in other "childhood niches," so this is a logical next step. While, "there are bound to be critics... who think Disney is already too powerful a force in the lives of children," there are also "savvy parents" out there who will recognize what the company is up to, but say, "I don't care because this is a really great product."
"Disney looking into cradle for customers"