Five Ways to Do Damage Control Like Mattel

Last Updated Aug 20, 2007 5:35 PM EDT

fire.jpgIf there's a silver lining to the China-recall scandal, it's that Mattel has set the bar for conducting damage control after making a highly public mistake. Follow Mattel's five steps:

Step 1: Admit fault and accept responsibility.
After the first toy recall this month, Mattel's CEO Robert A. Eckert said in a statement, "We apologize to everyone affected by this recall, especially those who bought the toys in question. Our goal is to correct this problem, improve our systems, and maintain the trust of the families that have allowed us to be part of their lives by acting responsibly and quickly to address their concerns."

Step 2: Act quickly to stop the bleeding.
Mattel launched a fast-track recall in cooperation witht the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to get the products off the shelves, and to intercept incoming shipments to prevent additional sales.

Step 3: Devise a plan to correct the problem and make the plan known.
Mattel immediately posted details of their revised safety plan on their website:

Regarding our manufacturing processes, we immediately strengthened them with a three-point check system. First, we're requiring that only paint from certified suppliers be used, and we're requiring that every single batch of paint at every single vendor be tested. If it doesn't pass, it doesn't get used. Second, we are tightening controls throughout the production process at vendor facilities and increasing unannounced random inspections. Third, we're testing every production run of finished toys to ensure compliance before they reach our customer. We've met with vendors to ensure they understand our tightened procedures and our absolute requirement of strict adherence to them.
Compare that reaction to RC2's. After the Thomas the Tank Engine recall earlier this year, the company's PR firm wouldn't answer questions about the recall, such as where the manufacturer is located, or share the company's plan to remedy the situation. Mattel shared the name of the vendor with competitors to ensure the industry as a whole remains safe.

Step 4: Turn positives into negatives.
A recent Associated Press article spins the recent recalls as positive events; they underscore Mattel's commitment to fixing their past mistakes, acknowledging the scope of those errors, and improving their testing measures. Here's an excerpt from the AP article:

Even as the massive recall was announced, company officials warned that it could grow as Mattel implemented more rigorous testing measures to ensure toy safety as the industry gears up for the holiday-buying season.
Step 5: Keep customers in the loop to rebuild trust.
Mattel launched a national advertising campaign to assure parents the company is not taking the situation lightly. Full-page ads in various newspapers include a letter from Mattel CEO Bob Eckert stating:
"Our long record of safety at Mattel is why we're one of the most trusted names with parents. And I am confident that the actions we are taking now will maintain that trust."
(Fire Image by lisaschaos, CC 2.0)