Last week’s massive Mattel recall—the second in a month for the company—surely sent a chill through the toy industry, as well as manufacturers in a number of other product categories. But with the holiday season a few short months away, it’s the toy industry that has the most to lose. Although Mattel did an excellent job of stepping up and reassuring consumers and retail partners, the recalls—the latest in a series involving products from China—have focused unwanted attention on the industry as manufacturers prepare to ship millions of toys from China for the holidays.
Still, kudos to Mattel for its crisis-control efforts, which included buying ad space in major newspapers across the country to address parents with a personal letter from Bob Eckert, Mattel’s chairman and CEO. Mattel also made its consumer Web site more interactive with a videotaped message from Eckert. Mattel executives did interviews on all the major broadcast news outlets, as well as interviews in print outlets and wire services, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, the AP, and Bloomberg. Mattel also spoke to the BBC and other global media outlets, and Eckert held a conference-call press conference the morning the recall was announced. That kind of communication effort and accessibility goes a long way.