Remember those studies showing that Baby Einstein DVDs are more likely to turn Junior into a Baby Homer Simpson? You know, the studies that helped the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood persuade Walt Disney Co. to offer full refunds to parents who were under the impression that the company’s videos were supposed to be educational?
Understandably, Disney -- which acquired Baby Einstein Co. in 2001 -- wasn’t happy to be viewed as acknowledging that its products were scholastically worthless. (For its part, Disney says the money-back guarantee demonstrates the degree to which it stands behind the videos.) Apparently the Burbank-based media behemoth has responded by pressuring the Campaign’s landlords to evict the tiny children’s advocacy group from its Boston office.
The New York Times reports that the Campaign's director, Susan Linn, and the head of its Media Center, Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, were contacted by their landlord a few weeks after the refund offer was publicized last fall. The landlord, a Harvard-affiliated children’s mental health center called Judge Baker Children’s Center, made an unusual request.
According to the New York Times:
“The Judge Baker staff informed us they didn’t want us to talk to the press, or to say anything about Baby Einstein,” Poussaint said. “They suggested to me that Disney was threatening to sue Judge Baker.”
It was an odd request, considering that the Judge Baker Children’s Center had just decided to honor Poussaint at a fundraising gala.
The Campaign has posted its version of events here. Both Disney and the children’s center declined to discuss the situation with the New York Times.
-- Karen Kaplan
Photo: Is this lizard waving goodbye to the advocacy group that questioned the marketing of Baby Einstein DVDs? Credit: Walt Disney Home Entertainment