Wednesday, November 22

Mattel Measures Up

Despite the fact that Mattel is entering its biggest season, the toy manufacturer took the high road and issued a recall of Polly Pocket Assortments after the Consumer Product Safety Commission deemed tiny magnets inside the dolls and accessories were unsafe because they could fall out and potentially be swallowed by children.

Given that there have only been a handful of incidents that resulted in injury — three, in fact — Mattel could have skirted the issue through the holidays. Instead, it has pulled 4.4 million play sets from the shelves, worked closely with the Commission, and taken extra steps to ensure consumers who have already purchased the Polly Pocket products are informed.

On the Polly Pocket product Website, Mattel prompts parents to compare assortment product numbers (with product pictures) to help identify which toys are being recalled. It offers a prepaid mailing label for the return of the necessary pieces as directed for each affected play set. Once returned, value vouchers will be delivered in 8-12 weeks. Mattel also includes the exact Consumer Product Safety Commission advisory as well as customer contact information. There is also a link to its customer relations site.

From a public relations and customer relations standpoint, Mattel once again demonstrates the safety of its consumers is more important than its cash flow. Obviously, the company appreciates its brand value is worth more than the price of the products.

Compare this to the Firestone tire nightmare three years ago, when 17,000 trucks and SUVs were implicated (much fewer than Mattel's recall) in at least 62 deaths and numerous injuries in the United States (much greater than those related to the toy). Firestone demonstrated a slow response, lack of preparedness for the media onslaught, and a failure to demonstrate concern for consumers. It proved catastrophic for the company despite the fact that it eventually recalled 6 million tires.

There is a lot to be said for honesty, transparency, and urgency in responding to consumer safety. Mattel will be selling Barbies and Hot Wheels in 50 years and no one will remember the recall. Firestone, on the other hand, still has brand damage, which is why the name has all but been eclipsed by either its Bridgestone parent or new product names like Firehawk, Affinity, Destination, and others (which are all Firestone tires).


Rich on 11/25/06, 12:24 PM said...

Thank you.


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