Jump to content

Baby Einstein

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Baby Einstein
IndustryEarly child entertainment
FoundedJanuary 31, 1996; 28 years ago (1996-01-31)
HeadquartersAtlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Key people
Julie Aigner-Clark (founder)
OwnerJulie Aigner-Clark

Baby Einstein (stylized as baby einstein) is an American franchise and line of multimedia products, including home video programs, CDs, books, flash cards, toys, and baby gear that specialize in interactive activities for infants and toddlers under three years old, created by Julie Aigner-Clark. The franchise is produced by The Baby Einstein Company (formerly known as I Think I Can Productions).

The videos show babies, toddlers and preschoolers under three years simple patterns, puppet shows, and familiar objects, such as everyday items, animals, and toys that are often accompanied by reorchestrated classical music written by composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, George Frideric Handel, and many others, as well as some traditional rhymes.

The video series is known for its puppets, which are all animals who seldom speak, mostly communicating in simple sounds and their respective animal noises.

The Baby Einstein Company has also released a companion series aimed at preschoolers, called Little Einsteins,[1] but in 2016, they received a new sister show called WeeSchool, which was also created by Clark.

Baby Einstein was introduced to the public in 1996, and remained a small company until Clark sold it to Disney. Between November 7, 2001,[2] and October 13, 2013, Disney owned and operated the Baby Einstein brand. Starting on October 14, 2013, Kids II, Inc. owns and operates the Baby Einstein brand.


The Baby Einstein Company was founded in 1996 by former teacher and stay-at-home mom Julie Aigner-Clark[3] at her home in suburban Alpharetta, Georgia, as I Think I Can Productions. According to an interview with Julie Dunn, she wanted her babies to be exposed to classical music, poetry, colors, shapes, and more.[4] Aigner-Clark and her husband borrowed video equipment and invested $15,000 of their own savings to produce the initial product, a VHS cassette they named Baby Einstein and later sold as Language Nursery in 2002 to avoid confusion with the Baby Einstein brand as a whole.

The original video shows a variety of toys and visuals interspersed with music, stories, numbers, and words spoken in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Hebrew, and Russian. Eventually, the video was marketed across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. It even won the 1997 Parenting Magazine award for Best Video of the Year.[5] Other videos followed, some featuring the Clarks' two daughters, Aspen and Sierra, as well as other children.

It quickly became a multimillion-dollar franchise; its revenue grew from $1 million in 1998[6] to $25 million in 2001.[7] Julie Aigner-Clark renamed the company as Aigner-Clark Productions in 1998, then the Baby Einstein Company the following year, and on February 10, 2000, Artisan Entertainment announced they had acquired a minority stake in the company in exchange for a North American home video distribution agreement under the FHE Kids sub-label of Family Home Entertainment.[8]

On November 6, 2001, The Walt Disney Company announced they had acquired The Baby Einstein Company for an undisclosed amount.[9] Julie Aigner-Clark stepped down from directing Baby Einstein videos in 2002. Disney rereleased the Baby Einstein videos previously distributed by FHE Kids, then produced re-edited versions of the Aigner-Clark videos in 2004.

The concept and popularity of Baby Einstein expanded as a Disney property. Educational toys and additional videos were developed. Baby Einstein was also the source of inspiration for a preschool-aimed television series called Little Einsteins, created by the Disney-owned Baby Einstein Company and animated by Curious Pictures. The series began with a direct-to-video film in August 2005, with regular episodes airing on Playhouse Disney starting October of that year.

The success of Baby Einstein was estimated to be nearly $400 million based on revenues. Julie was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" and won various awards, and one in three U.S. households with babies were found to own at least one Baby Einstein product.[citation needed] It received positive media and Aigner-Clark appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and USA Today, among others. President George W. Bush mentioned the Baby Einstein Company in his 2007 State of the Union address, which Aigner-Clark was invited to attend.[citation needed]

In 2008, Clark, along with actress Jennifer Garner, hosted a tenth anniversary party for Baby Einstein. Clark had also announced plans to launch a toddler brand called Einstein Pals,[10] including a line of videos, but the project been abandoned since 2011.[11]

As a result of Baby Einstein being named after Albert Einstein, royalties had to be paid to Corbis which compensates the Einstein estate. This made Einstein one of the top five earning dead celebrities.[12]

On October 14, 2013, The Walt Disney Company announced they had sold the Baby Einstein brand to Kids II, Inc., a longtime licensee of the property.[13]


FTC complaint[edit]

In May 2006, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against the Baby Einstein Company and similar companies for false advertising.[14] The CCFC alleged false advertising based on an American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children under two should be discouraged from watching television.[15] It also cited studies showing that only 6% of parents were aware of that recommendation, whereas 49% thought educational videos were very important in children's intellectual development.[16][17] In December 2007, the FTC closed the complaint, noting that some of the CCFC's claims did not raise issues under the FTC's substantiation rules.[18] The FTC also considered the redesign of the Baby Einstein website, which removed certain product testimonials and product descriptions, as well as the company's promise to make sure that advertising claims about products' educational and developmental value would be properly substantiated.[18]

Language development[edit]

A 2010 study published in Psychological Science demonstrated that children who viewed the videos regularly for one month, with or without their parents, "showed no greater understanding of words from the program than kids who never saw it".[19] On the other hand, children who were taught by their parents improved the most; researchers speculated that this was probably because children learn best "through meaningful gestures and interactive communication with parents".[20] In response to these new findings, Disney offered refunds to parents whose children did not see improvement,[21] even though Bob Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, demanded a retraction (of the press release) when a similarly unsupportive study was announced in 2007.[22][23]

The 2007 study, based on telephone interviews with parents, had been published in the Journal of Pediatrics and resulted in a lawsuit by the company's founders due to widespread negative media coverage stemming from the article.[24][25] The press release announcing the study explained that for each hour spent watching baby DVDs/videos, infants understood on average six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them.[26] The University of Washington researchers Frederick Zimmerman, Dimitri Christakis, and Andrew Meltzoff had claimed that, among infants aged 8 to 16 months, exposure to "baby DVDs/videos" such as "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby" was strongly associated with lower scores on a Communicative Development Inventory, a standard language development test.[27] The Baby Einstein Company expressed "serious concerns about the many contradictions" in the study.[28] Although University of Washington President Mark Emmert rejected Disney's claims,[29] in 2010, the university settled with the founders, paying out $175,000 in back legal fees and turned over the study's data to the Baby Einstein founders.[30]

In March 2008, the Journal of Pediatrics released a study by Harvard University and the Boston Children's Hospital's Center on Media and Child Health showing that television viewing is, “neither beneficial nor deleterious to child cognitive and language abilities” for children under 2, in a study that examined all television rather than just education DVDs for babies.[31] In January 2010, the founders requested that a judge order the University of Washington to release records for the 2007 study, saying, “Given that other research studies have not shown the same outcomes, we would like the raw data and analytical methods from the Washington studies so we can audit their methodology, and perhaps duplicate the studies".[32] In 2013, the original dataset was reanalyzed by independent scholars who concluded that it was safest to suggest that baby videos had minimal impact on language development and that linking baby videos to decreased language development was not well supported by the data.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Baby Einstein Company Grows Beyond Video Aisle and into Preschool Television" (Press release).
  2. ^ VERRIER, RICHARD (2001-11-07). "Disney Buys Toy Maker, Publisher Baby Einstein". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  3. ^ Conrad Gothie, Sarah (December 2006). "'Great Minds Start Little': Unpacking the Baby Einstein Phenomenon": 10. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)[dead link]
  4. ^ Dunn, Julie. "Bringing up Baby Einstein." New York Times, 11 Nov. 2001, p. BU. Gale Academic OneFile,
  5. ^ "80 Percent of Parents Feel Children Under the Age of Five Should Be Exposed to Classical Music." PR Newswire, 10 Aug. 2000, p. 0870. Gale Academic OneFile
  6. ^ Eric Hubler (March 12, 1999). "Baby videos spell big money Mom turns 'Einstein' into million-dollar enterprise". Denver Post.
  7. ^ Daisy Whitney (May 30, 2001). "Nurturing a 'Baby' boom Littleton woman's line of videos, CDs a hit with children". Denver Post.
  8. ^ "Artisan Entertainment Acquires Rights to Distribute Branded Developmental Series From The Baby Einstein Company". Business Wire. February 10, 2000.
  9. ^ "The Walt Disney Company Acquires the Baby Einstein Company". 6 November 2001.
  10. ^ "Baby Einstein(TM) Founder Julie Clark and Jennifer Garner Host 10th Anniversary Celebration - Business Wire". businesswire.com (Press release). Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Apply for a Trademark. Search a Trademark". trademarkia.com. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Cobain is the new Elvis (Most earning dead celebrities)". Sydney Morning Herald. 2006-10-25. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
  13. ^ License! Global (October 14, 2013). "Kids II Purchases Baby Einstein". License! Global.
  14. ^ "Baby Einstein & Brainy Baby FTC Complaint" Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website, retrieved Dec. 15, 2008
  15. ^ American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education (February 2001). "Children, Adolescents, and Television (policy statement)". Pediatrics. 107 (2): 423–426. doi:10.1542/peds.107.2.423. PMID 11158483.
  16. ^ Josh Golin (January 2007). "Putting the Book Back in Book Fair". Mothering. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  17. ^ Michelle M. Garrison & Dimitri A. Christakis. "New Report on Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers". Kaiser Family Foundation. Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  18. ^ a b "Federal Trade Commission Closing Letter" to counsel for the Baby Einstein Company, December 5, 2007, retrieved July 9, 2008
  19. ^ Bruce Bower (September 3, 2010). "DVDs don't turn toddlers into vocabulary Einsteins". ScienceNews. Archived from the original on November 20, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  20. ^ Maia Szalavitz (September 7, 2010). "'Like Crack for Babies': Kids Love Baby Einstein, But They Don't Learn From It". Time.
  21. ^ Tamar Lewin, "No Einstein in Your Crib? Get a Refund", The New York Times, October 23, 2009
  22. ^ Robert A. Iger (August 13, 2007). "The Walt Disney Company demands retraction from the University of Washington for misleading press release" (PDF). Baby Einstein press release. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28.
  23. ^ Meg Marco (2007-08-13). "Walt Disney Demands Retraction From University of Washington Over Baby Einstein Video Press Release". The Consumerist. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  24. ^ Pamela Paul (2006-01-08). "Want a Brainier Baby? Loading up on tapes, games and videos may not be a smart move" (PDF). Time. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
  25. ^ Roxanne Khamsi (2007-08-07). "Educational DVDs 'slow infant learning'". New Scientist.
  26. ^ Joel Schwartz (August 7, 2007). "Baby DVDs, videos may hinder, not help, infants' language development". University of Washington press release. Archived from the original on 2007-08-18.
  27. ^ Frederick J. Zimmerman; Dimitri A. Christakis & Andrew N. Meltzoff (2007-08-07). "Associations between Media Viewing and Language Development in Children under Age 2 Years" (PDF). Journal of Pediatrics. 151 (4): 364–8. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2007.04.071. PMID 17889070. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-10-30. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  28. ^ Theresa Marchetta (2007-08-08). "Study Targets Infant Videos Finds Too Much TV, Too Few Words". The Denver Channel. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
  29. ^ "UW President rejects Disney complaints". University of Washington press release. 2007-08-16.
  30. ^ "'Baby Einstein' DVD creators find redemption in documents suggesting negative study was flawed". The Denver Post. 2011-06-30.
  31. ^ "TV's Not the Big Bad Wolf". The Washington Post. March 2009.
  32. ^ Lewin, Tamar (12 January 2010). "'Baby Einstein' Founder Goes to Court". The New York Times.
  33. ^ Christopher J. Ferguson; M. B. Donnellan (2013). "Is the association between children's baby video viewing and poor language development robust? A reanalysis of Zimmerman, Christakis, and Meltzoff (2007)" (PDF). Developmental Psychology. 50 (1): 129–137. doi:10.1037/a0033628. PMID 23855259.

External links[edit]