Mattel: How not to handle a PR crisis

I’m pretty sure Mattel couldn’t possibly be doing a worse job of addressing the current toy recall issue, short of trying to suppress it.

As the parent of a 2 year old, who owns several toys from the affected toy lines (but not affected toys), I feel like I have some skin in the game on this one.

Check out the “Voluntary Safety Recall Facts” web site. The whole thing smacks of PR circa 1975.

recall image

Here is a little unsolicited design advice Mattel. When you have a sensitive issue, and hundred of thousands of worried and pissed off parents, don’t use SO MUCH RED. It’s ok to go a little off-brand on this, trust me.

Second, let’s look at the letter from Bob Eckert, CEO, patronizingly titled “Because your children are our children to”. WTF?!? What does that even mean?

Dear Fellow Parents,

Many of us at Mattel are parents ourselves. And like you, we know that nothing is more important than the safety of our children. As you may know, Mattel has recently voluntarily recalled some products for two different reasons: impermissible use of lead paint and risks associated with small, high-powered magnets.

We want to ensure that every parent is aware of these issues, returns affected products to us and knows that we have already taken significant actions to further ensure the safety of our toys.

We hope that we don’t have to recall any more products, but if we do, we pledge to address the matter promptly and to inform you quickly.

Our long record of safety at Mattel is why we’re one of the most trusted names with parents. And it is our sincere hope that the actions we are taking now will maintain that trust in the future.

Thank you for your continued trust.

Bob Eckert
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Mattel, Inc.

I find the statement “thank you for your continued trust” a bit presumptuous. The entire reason any consumer would be on this site is because they don’t trust Matel. This is an opportunity to reearn parents trust, not presume it.

The video is probably the worst offender. Every word scrubbed by PR, shot in a sterile corporate setting. It comes off as pretty lame and insincere. What could Bob & co have done better here? How about losing the tie, for starters. How about showing footage of staff on sight in China implementing “3 point process changes”, instead of describing them. The majority of the video is spent seeming to blame their manufacturers, instead of accepting responsibility. The much needed apology comes close to the end, and seems like an insincere but required part of the “script”.

update: One thing I forgot last night… where are the opportunities to participate on this site? Why can’t I leave comments (vent)? If I were Mattel, I would much rather have this activity happening on my site, where I could visibly respond, than offsite.

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