Executive Rewind: Mattel and the China Syndrome

“It won’t happen again!”

Can you guarantee it?


Mattel Toys Chairman and CEO Bob Eckert certainly could not. After all, he’d just gone though yet another toy recall, thanks to lead-tainted paints used in Chinese production plants and magnets in toys that could get loose and choke a child.

Eckert did the right thing right away. He went public through the media immediately, about the time the Consumer Product Safety Commission was wrapping up its news conference on the recall. His main message: everything’s being tested now, repeatedly, and using new standards, even on older products.

Of course, the media look for absolutes, and CNBC’s David Faber wanted to know if this will be the last recall. Eckert didn’t take the bait. His response: can’t promise, no system is perfect, and we won’t be shy about future recalls, if necessary.

Eckert’s swift response, his candid answers and his description of Mattel’s process in screening and re-screening the steps in production all served his company well and quickly switched the media focus from Mattel to China.


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