Mattel apologises to China over toy recalls

Mattel, the toy manufacturer tainted by the lead-paint recall scandal, has apologised to China for damaging the 2008 Olympic Games host’s reputation. The company, the world’s largest toy maker, has admitted that it has recalled some Chinese-made goods that were up to scratch.

Mattel has come under scrutiny, following the recall of 21 million toys over five weeks, because of excessive levels of lead paint. Thomas Debrowski, Mattel executive vice-president of worldwide operations, admitted its own reputation had also been tarnished by the recalls.

He told China’s quality watchdog chief Li Changjiang: “Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologises personally to you, the Chinese people and all of our customers who received the toys.”

Debrowski added that the reputation of Chinese-made goods has been damaged, saying Mattel remained committed to manufacturing in China. He admits the “vast majority” of products recalled were due to a design flaw in Mattel’s design, not through a manufacturing flaw in Chinese manufacturers.

In a statement, Mattel further says that although too many toys had been recalled, it was because the company puts safety first.

Earlier this month, marketingweek.co.uk revealed how the toy brand made a U-turn and rolled out a print campaign to reassure UK consumers over the recall crisis. It had previously insisted that such a campaign was unnecessary, despite running one in the US.

The ads highlighted Mattel’s updated policy on toy testing, which includes a mandatory three-stage safety check of the paint used on toys.

Mattel’s toy recall included 436,000 small toy cars based on the Disney/Pixar film character Sarge from “Cars”. The move propelled Disney to launch its own toy-testing system to handle quality control issues, as reported on marketingweek.co.uk earlier this month.

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