Mattel Crisis Management or Management Crisis

By David Baron
2008 | Case No. P59
In late 2006 and early 2007 a number of imports from China, including toys, were found to pose health risks. With safety concerns about Chinese imports on the minds of readers, on July 26, 2007 the New York Times carried a feature article on the precautions Mattel, the world’s largest toymaker, took to ensure the safety of its toys. In contrast to other toymakers, Mattel owned the factories in China where its most popular toys, such as Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars, were made. Mattel’s precautions, however, were not sufficient to shield it from health hazards in the toys it made in China. This case follows a number of product safety snafus, mainly around high lead levels, that Mattel faced from its various suppliers in China. In each situation, Mattel must weigh legal, ethical, and business considerations in determining how to best react.
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