In 2007, the fears of the Center's skeptics were confirmed when it launched an aggressive, scare tactic marketing campaign called Ransom Notes in 2007. "We have your son," said one ad, created with bits of disparate type like a ransom note from a kidnapper. "We will make sure he will no longer be able to care for himself or interact socially as long as he lives. This is only the beginning"Autism."
"We have your daughter. We are forcing her to throw up after every meal she eats. It's only going to get worse," said another ad signed "Bulimia."
"We are in possession of your son. We are making him squirm and fidget until he is a detriment to himself and those around him. Ignore this and your kid will pay," said another add from "ADHD." Other ransom ads came from "kidnappers" named Depression, Asperger's Syndrome and OCD.
Created pro bono by advertising giant BBDO, the ads were planned to run in New York magazine, Newsweek , Parents, Education Update . Mental Health News and other publications and on 11 billboards and 200 kiosks said the press release.
The hostage campaign drew immediate public outrage and more than a dozen advocacy groups joined together in an online petition calling for an end to it. "This is a demonstration of the assaultive tactics used by psychiatry today--in particular, academic psychiatrists and university based medical centers that are under the influence of their pharmaceutical partners," Vera Sharav wrote in alerts to AHRP's mailing list. "If Dr. Koplewicz et al are not stopped, the campaign will be hitting the rest of the country," she warned, and informed readers that the campaign was formulated by BBDO, "a major direct to consumer prescription drug advertising firm," asking the New York State Attorney General's office to investigate.
Days after the backlash, the Center revoked the advertising campaign "after the effort drew a strongly negative reaction, " reported the New York Times. Koplewicz told the Times the decision was made by the Center with no pressure from New York University and they planned to introduce a new campaign in the next three months. However, he left the Child Study Center at NYU in 2009 to start his own facility, initially called the "Child Study Center Foundation," but changed to the "Child Mind Institute," in 2010.
Though Koplewicz' Child Mind Institute is supposedly a "non-profit," it is ensconced on Park Avenue in Manhattan and Koplewicz' hourly rate "can be as high as $1,000 (three to four times that of the average Manhattan therapist)," says the Times . In a chilling interview on Education Update Online about the Institute Koplewicz says the reason the facility works closely with schools "is simply that's where the kids are," drawing an analogy to Willy Sutton who said "the reason he robbed banks is that's where the money is."