October 28, 2009
Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org)
For Immediate Release
CCFC Urges Baby Einstein to Come Clean with Parents;
Advocates Document Years of Educational Claims
BOSTON (October 28, 2009) -- The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is pleased that Baby Einstein has acknowledged that their videos for infants and toddlers are not educational, but calls on the company to stop misleading parents about its past actions.
An examination of Baby Einstein's promotional materials over the years -- both before and after the company was purchased by the Walt Disney Company -- makes clear that Baby Einstein has built its brand on the implication that its videos have educational benefits for babies and toddlers.
"The number one reason infants and toddlers watch television is that their parents believe baby media is educational, an impression that was fostered by Baby Einstein's marketing over the years," said CCFC's Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige, a professor of education at Lesley University, author of Taking Back Childhood and mother of actor Matt Damon. "We hope that in light of this unprecedented refund offer, parents will be reassured that their babies do not need videos in order to learn and grow optimally."
On October 25, 2009, Susan McClain, Baby Einstein's General Manager, told Good Morning America, "At the heart of what the brand has stood for from the very beginning is exposure to beautiful things, sharing the arts and humanities with parents and their babies . . . We have not claimed that we are educational."
Yet for years, Baby Einstein's promotional materials were chock- full of claims about the videos' developmental benefits:
• The very first Baby Einstein press release stated: "The Baby Einstein Company today announced the release of Baby Einstein, the first developmental video to combine visual and linguistic experiences that facilitate the development of the brain in infants ages one to 12 months." It also stated: "According to cognitive research, dedicated neurons in the brain's auditory cortex are formed by repeated exposure to phonemes, the unique sounds of language. Studies show that if these neurons are not used, they may die. Through exposure to phonemes in seven languages, Baby Einstein contributes to increased brain capacity."
• A February 1, 1998 press release entitled, "Infants and Toddlers Can Increase Reasoning and Intelligence Through Mozart's Music," begins, "The Baby Einstein Company today unveiled Baby Mozart, the second in a series of educational videos aimed at facilitating the brain development of infants and toddlers." The release also quoted Baby Einstein founder Julie Aigner-Clark as saying, "parents who purchase the video for their babies can feel confident that their children are receiving a good head start."
• In a February 13, 2000 press release, Ms. Aigner-Clark claimed, "By placing our titles in DVD format, we provide parents with a highly flexible, dynamic medium that can help youngsters learn" and that Baby Einstein was "offering families an increasingly broad range of healthy, developmental media for very young children."
• A November 6, 2001 release announcing The Walt Disney Company's purchase of The Baby Einstein Company quoted Disney's president Robert Iger as saying, "We view this acquisition as a core element of our company-wide learning initiative for children."
• In a May 1, 2003 press release for Baby Galileo, the Baby Einstein Company referred to itself as the "creator of the infant developmental media category" whose videos "captivate and stimulate babies' and toddlers' natural sense of curiosity."
• Until Baby Einstein changed its marketing following CCFC's Federal Trade Commission complaint, the Baby Einstein website described its Baby Wordsworth DVD as a rich and interactive learning experience that introduces your little one to the concepts of verbal and written communication and sign language."
CCFC also urges Baby Einstein to stop launching personal attacks at CCFC staff. "The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a broad coalition of parents, educators, healthcare professionals and researchers who care about the wellbeing of children," said CCFC's Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "It is disappointing that Baby Einstein has chosen to attack our director, Dr. Susan Linn - a tireless advocate on behalf of children and families -rather than addressing the legitimate concerns about how they marketed their videos and joining with us to provide honest information to parents."
To read CCFC's original statement on the Baby Einstein refund, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pressreleases/babyeinsteinrefund.html.
For information about how to obtain a Baby Einstein refund, visit http://www.babyeinstein.com/(S(3qnoffi1whnnnt55h2ljk355))/parentsguide/satisfaction/upgrade_us.html.
To read CCFC’s Federal Trade Commission complaint, visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/babyvideos/ftccomplaint.htm.