Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just be thankful you don't work for Mattel

Not often, but every once in a while, I've felt a little career twinge of regret that I never got any experience doing consumer marketing.

I never walked into anyone's house and found "my" product on the coffee table or on the shelf. Never actually used any of the products I've marketed. Never saw people line up in the cold and dark to get a chance to buy any of "my" stuff. Never heard anyone hum "my" jingle. (That would have been the day.)

No, I never had anything to do with the products that become the object of desire, that make anyone's heart go pitter-pat.

Just as well.

With another recall of lead-coated toys scheduled for today, I sure wouldn't want to be in marketing at Mattel today.

Or anywhere at Mattel, for that matter.

How do you spin this one up?

For the third - or is it fourth? - time since the beginning of August, they've had to come forth and announce that certain of their toys may pose some danger to kids if the kids actually put the toys in their mouths. Not that this happens very often.....

One of the toys being recalled is something called the Bongo Band set, which carries the words "It's a Big, Big World".

It may be a big, big world, but it must feel small, small for Mattel - nowhere to run, nowhere to ride.

So what do Mattel marketers do this Christmas season?

  • Keep up their unrelenting, super-saturation ads aimed at kids?
  • Make sure that they label all the toys they've tested and found safe - with prominent LABELs for the readers in the family?
  • Offer up a ton of promotions to get people to buy Mattel and Fisher Price?
  • Ignore it, it will go away.

Whatever they're going to be doing, I'm sure that they're already feverishly cooking it on on their Easy Bake Ovens.

If you look at Mattel's web site today, you won't see their toys featured very prominently. It's all about the Voluntary Recall, corporate philanthropy, and good global citizenship, including their manufacturing principles. It's certainly clear that they put a lot of time and effort into making safe products, but with all of today's arm's length from an arm's length manufacturing, they'll just have to try harder.

Maybe they need to put a little more time and effort - and dollars - into production, and a little less into marketing to two year olds.

No twinges today about never having done any consumer marketing. "My" products may not have been very exciting, and they certainly weren't household words, but no kid ever got brain damage by putting one of them in his mouth.


John Whiteside said...

Yeah, but weren't you involved with a brochure that made people bleed?

Maureen Rogers said...

They only bled a little - and that happened only when they refused to wear protective gloves when handling the brochure.