Mattel under fire for not running recall ad campaign

US toy brand Mattel is under fire for its “inconsistent” reaction to its toy recall crisis. The criticism comes as the toy company launches a major PR campaign in the US to reinforce its commitment to child safety, yet the brand has failed to act in the UK.

Mattel faces its first lawsuits in the US over the fiasco, which has seem nearly 20 million toys recalled globally.

Branding experts say its response has “displayed inconsistency” and that the brand “has not done enough” to address parents’ concerns about possibly defective and poisonous products.

In the US, the company has appeared on TV and run a series of press ads that provide information on the affected products and the recall, as well as outlining its commitment to child safety. But a Mattel spokeswoman says a press campaign is not necessary in the UK.

She says: “We appeared on all major news bulletins – BBC Six O’Clock News, ITN and Five – and felt that, alongside the press coverage generated, this was sufficient reaction. Press articles also featured helpline numbers and lists of products affected.”

Graham Hales, executive director at Interbrand says: “It is strange that Mattel chose to roll out a print ad campaign around the recall in the US, but not the UK. When a brand has the same problems in regions that have commonality, the communications strategy should be consistent across both – especially for global brands. Are American consumers’ attitudes so different from that of those in the UK? If the issue is the same for both territories, the brand should arrive at the same conclusion.”

The Mattel spokeswoman says a different strategy was adopted in the UK as different markets communicate their own messages.


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