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Jessica Rabbit letters rain down on Disney--pin sale ends

2004 Nurses Day pin
2003 Nurses Day pin

May 27, 2004 -- At least 300 nurses wrote to protest Disney's sultry Jessica Rabbit nurse pins, which were created to honor nurses during nurses' week 2004 and 2003. Within 48 hours of starting our campaign, Disney agreed to "remove the pin from sale." The 2004 pin had been available for purchase in Disney World shops and beyond since nurses' week in early May 2004. The Truth applauds this prompt action, and thanks all of the campaign participants whose letters made it happen. We are also urging Disney to make amends, and we need your help.

Of course, simply stopping the ads in the future can't "unring the bell," and undo the damage that has been done. Therefore, we are asking Disney to make amends to the profession by supporting activities to repair the harm that has been done to nursing's image.

This is the full text of Disney's letter that appears to have been sent to all letter-writers:

Thank you for your letter dated May 24 addressed to Senator Mitchell and Michael Eisner concerning the recently released Jessica Rabbit pin.

I hope that you understand that no offense was intended in the release of the pin. Jessica Rabbit remains a very popular member of the Disney family of characters. Nonetheless, we understand your concern and have taken action to remove the pin from sale.

We appreciate your bringing this to our attention and wish you every success in your efforts on behalf of the nursing profession.

Very truly yours,

David K. Thompson
Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel-Corporate and Corporate Secretary
The Walt Disney Company

July 23, 2004 -- The Truth sent an additional letter, followed up by ~150 nurses and others asking Disney to make amends to the nursing profession. While Disney essentially responded that they do not intend to make amends, we have ended our campaign as of today so that we can focus on more topical media events. The text of the letter we sent is below.

Dear Mr. Thompson (with copies to Senator Mitchell, Mr. Eisner and Mr. Igor):

Thank you for your letter of May 27, and for taking action to remove Disney's Jessica Rabbit nurse pin from sale. We trust that you will also refrain from selling any such Jessica Rabbit products in connection with any nurse appreciation events in the future. Please let me know if that is not the case. Your decision shows a laudable concern for the views of nurses, many of whom, as you know, objected strongly to the image of nursing presented in this product.

Unfortunately, just ceasing sale of the product cannot undo the damage already done, or "unring the bell." In our view, the product has imprinted a negative image of nursing on many more people than those who actually purchased it, potentially including health care decision-makers and career seekers, at a time of critical shortage. Persons who associate nursing with sex are unlikely to see it as worthy of being their career or of receiving significant public or private resources. They are unlikely to realize, for instance, that many thousands of nurses with doctoral-level education in nursing work on the cutting edge of health care research. Nor are they likely to realize that nurses save or improve countless lives every day through their difficult, highly-skilled work. It is imperative for global health that we not only halt this kind of damage to the nursing image, but also start reversing the damage by helping to create a more positive image.

Nurses represent a key consumer group. There are roughly 3 million registered nurses in North America alone, all are working age adults, the vast majority are female (who do most purchasing), and many of their family members and friends are also consumers of Disney products. It is obviously in Disney's interest to make amends to these consumers in a tangible, visible way. Indeed, even without any evident public relations problem, Johnson & Johnson recently put $30 million into an image campaign (the Campaign for Nursing's Future) in response to the worsening global nursing crisis. There is no doubt in my mind that nurses are buying more Johnson & Johnson products as a result of it. A similar effort on behalf of Disney would show nurses that you are determined to make amends.

What can Disney do? I have a number of ideas, many of which are also posted on The Truth About Nursing's web site, For instance, the company might undertake image-building efforts such as:

funding art that portrays nurses in an accurate light:

funding "Be a nurse for a day" programs:"

funding media training programs for nurses:

becoming a supporting member of the Truth, helping us increase public understanding of the nursing profession:

funding other image campaigns, such as Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow:

However you decide to help improve the nursing image, I urge you to consult with the Truth and the nursing/media experts who serve on its board and advisory panel, to avoid adding to the problem. I mention this only because others have attempted to create positive image campaigns for nursing without the guidance of nursing's media experts, and some have inadvertently created products that may have actually worsened nursing's image. For instance, some have emphasized the profession's "hand-holding" image at the expense of the highly-skilled, professional image that is likely to attract the necessary resources and interest today. The Truth would be happy to work together with you in a way that can benefit both Disney and the nursing image.

Thank you again for promptly pulling the Jessica Rabbit nurse pin. I urge you to begin working to repair nursing's image and address the crisis in nursing.


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