SEATTLE: The University of Washington declined this week to retract a press release, which The Walt Disney Company claimed misrepresented research data on its Baby Einstein DVD franchise.
The school insisted the research behind the study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, was solid and that it stood by both the press release announcing its publication and the study itself.
“We really haven’t had to do anything except respond to their letter,” said Joel Schwarz, public information officer in the office of news and information at UW. “We don’t feel defensive about it at all.”
Following the release of the UW study – which claimed the influence of DVDs such as the Baby Einstein series were not positive – Disney began to respond publicly. On Aug. 13, Disney went public with a strongly worded letter demanding the school retract its press release on the study. Both Disney and Ketchum, which is providing PR support for the company, declined to comment for this story.
“We welcome well-conceived and well-executed research of all kinds, particularly involving media products and children,” Bob Iger, president and CEO of Disney wrote. “However, we question the credibility of a study that says watching American Idol is better for infants than no television at all.”
The university responded to that letter publicly, declining to back away from any of the information it had put out surrounding the research. Schwarz said the communications team had coordinated the original release of the information, but that it was really the Disney letter that had kept the issue in the news.
“They were the ones who made it a public issue. By doing that it extended the story from what would normally be about three days to about two weeks,” he said.
Schwarz said Disney has since responded to the university’s response with a private letter, reiterating its demands.