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You know those Baby Einstein DVDs that litter toy stores—and maybe even around your house? Well, anyone who purchased a Baby Einstein video between June 5, 2004 and September 5, 2009 is eligible for a refund/trade-in offer from Disney, which owns the Baby Einstein franchise. The reason for the refund? Turns out, the claim that baby videos are educational was nothing more than a marketing ploy.
At one point, The Walt Disney Company didn't just imply that the DVDs had educational value (thanks for the name, Einstein!) but explicitly made the claim in its marketing campaigns. Now, in what could be described as a "no-brainer," the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is forcing the company to pay up for the misrepresentation.
Consumers can receive $15.99 per title (up to four DVDs per household) or trade their DVDs for other Baby Einstein products or Disney Store coupons. The Baby Einstein refund offer is good through March 10, 2010 and requires no receipts. The Walt Disney Company quietly removed the word "educational" from its Baby Einstein marketing campaigns three years ago, after it was forced to do so by a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission by the CCFC. But the CCFC was not satisfiedit wanted consumers to be compensated for the dupe, and threatened a class-action lawsuit unless Disney agreed to a refund plan. And now, here we are.
According to a 2003 study referenced by the New York Times, one-third of all American babies from age six months to 2 years had at least one Baby Einstein video. That includes my kids, too. At that time, though, I was thinking more about parenting breaks than powering brains.
As far as real science goes, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2 at all. A letter from the CCFC claims that television exposure from ages 1 to 3 is also associated with attention problems at age 7.
But the one person I feel most bad for in all this is Einstein himself -- I’m sure he never envisioned his name being associated with relativity when it came to marketing morals.
Editor's Note: The original article incorrectly included Brainy Baby. Brainy Baby is in no way affiliated with the Baby Einstein Company, but rather they are competitors. Brainy Baby DVDs and products are not included in this refund.