Mattel Hopes to Reassure Parents With Print Ads

Toy Maker Buys Space in WSJ, Others Pubs After Second Recall in Two Weeks

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Rocked by its second recall in a month, Mattel is taking an aggressive approach toward reassuring consumers, running full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The New York Times today, and posting an apologetic message from Chairman-CEO Bob Eckert on its website.
In the wake of the second major toy recall in two weeks, Mattel is running full page newspaper ads to reassure parents.
In the wake of the second major toy recall in two weeks, Mattel is running full page newspaper ads to reassure parents.

Mattel is now recalling 436,000 toys in its "Cars" die-cast vehicle line found to contain lead paint and an additional 18.2 million magnetic toys found to contain small, powerful magnets that can be harmful if swallowed.

No ads last time
The recall comes two weeks after the toymaker recalled about 1.5 million Chinese-made toys -- many featuring Nickelodeon and Sesame Street characters -- that were found to contain lead paint. Mattel opted against paid ads after the first recall and relied on the news media to get the message out, company spokeswoman Brenda Andolina said in a previous interview.

The newspaper ads that appeared today were presented as a letter to parents from Mr. Eckert, who writes: "Nothing is more important than the safety of our children. 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."

Mr. Eckert also appears in a video on Mattel's website, making a personal appeal to consumers. "I want you to know that I am as upset and disappointed as anyone," he said. "I want to ensure that every parent knows ... we have already taken significant actions to further ensure the safety our toys. I can't change what has happened in the past, but I can change what happens in the future."

Random inspections
In the video, Mr. Eckert unveiled a new three-point check system he said Mattel is using to guarantee the safety of its products, which include testing paint at every vendor sight, testing finished batches of toys and conducting random inspections at facilities throughout the production process. He also said representatives from Mattel have met personally with contracted vendors to discuss safety standards. It could not immediately be learned whether Mattel was working with a crisis PR agency on its program.

The two recalls come as things were looking up for Mattel, which has recently struggled to fend off Barbie from the Bratz line. About a month ago, Mattel posted second-quarter profits that jumped 15%, thanks to strong sales of Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels.
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