March 14, NY Times

WHEN the Columbus Children’s Hospital agreed to name a new lobby after two retail chains to thank their corporate parent for a $5 million donation, everyone was all smiles. The same was true when the Ohio hospital renamed itself Nationwide Children’s Hospital, to acknowledge a $50 million gift from Nationwide insurance, a large local company.

But a coalition of children’s advocates contends that the hospital went too far by agreeing to name a new emergency department and trauma center after another locally based retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch, in exchange for a $10 million donation.

The coalition, which includes the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, several pediatricians and Parents for Ethical Marketing, is asking the hospital to reconsider the decision made in June 2006 to accept the donation. The plea is being made now because ground is to be broken this year for the building to house the emergency and trauma facilities.

The 15 organizations and 80 individuals that compose the coalition contend that naming the new center after Abercrombie & Fitch — known for provocative advertising and revealing clothing — sends a grievously wrong message.

“It is troubling that a children’s hospital would name its emergency room after a company that routinely relies on highly sexualized marketing to target teens and preteens,” the members of the coalition wrote in a letter that was sent on Tuesday to the hospital’s office in Columbus, Ohio.

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photo: Abercrombie & Fitch, known for sexy ads, made a $10 million donation for an emergency department at a hospital in Ohio (Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press)