Made in China – A Killer Brand

August 14th, 2007

It’s the recall heard round the world – and the Made in China brand could feel the pain for decades. Since the beginning of August, over 10 million Fisher-Price toys have been pulled off retail shelves (the primary culprit being unsafe paint). And although Mattel, Fisher Price’s parent company, was praised by the Toy Industry Association for its “quick response to the problem,” the Consumer Product Commission said the company’s initial fault was “unacceptable.”

To make matters worse, just as retailers began pulling the toys, the vendor Mattel claimed was responsible for the unsafe paint mishap committed suicide – not an uncommon practice amongst disgraced Chinese executives. This incident viciously reopened the toy-maker’s healing wound. Two days later Mattel announced further sweeping recalls.

So while the recalls and a tragic suicide have hurt the Mattel and Fisher-Price brands (and their bottom lines), the big loser here might be the Made in China brand.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Chinese products get flagged this year. All sorts of things have been pulled recently including seafood, pet food, toothpaste, even tires. Will this have an impact on how we view the Made in China brand? Possibly. Will American companies rethink their outsourcing tactics? Doubtful, but you never know. Will American consumers read more labels? We think so.

So what’s the Made in China brand to do? For starters, Chinese economic leaders can apologize publicly and develop, implement and enforce higher standards of product quality. It’s a step in the right direction that could save the brand.

Posted Under: Branding, Crisis Communications
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