Mattel Corporation's Toys' Recall

Toys made with lead-based paint are toxic and dangerous for children. A massive Mattel toy recall ignited in 2007 due to product containing lead-based paint. “As the lead oxidizes, it has a sweet taste. As a result, children find the taste of paint chips appealing and become poisoned when they swallow them”( Miller, 1998, pg.31). Lead poisoning can occur if the lead content levels are high in the blood. This is extremely harmful to children and must be addresses and corrected.

Mattel Corporation is a publicly traded organization carrying a market Capitalization above .

5 billion. Mattel is the largest toy company in the entire world and employs about 36,000 people in forty two different countries around the world with products being sold in one hundred and fifty nations. The Charleston Daily Mail concluded that, “Mattel ordered three high-profile recalls this summer involving more than 21 million Chinese-made toys, including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars because of concerns about lead paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed”(Charleston Daily Mail, 2007).

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In order to cut down costs, China subcontractors used unapproved suppliers. In the summer of 2007, the Mattel Corporation underwent an immense toy recall due to the toys containing lead-based paint. A NY times newspaper reported, “ The lead paint recall was Mattel's second in less than a month of lead-tainted toys made in China”(Story & Barboza, 2007, para. 12). The recall involved eighty three different products resulting in 1.5 million products being pulled from the shelves. Supported by research, “According to the EPA, exposure to lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the United States today”(EPA & CPSC, 1995).

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Mattel's reputation decreased after the recall took place.

A recall can take place if under the circumstance, a product poses a threat that was undetectable before hand or the knowledge connected to the issue maybe wasn't available to the organization. For instance, a lot of toy companies manufactured their toys using magnets, but did not tighten or secure them, which in turn made the magnets a potential hazard for kids when they are playing with these toys.

Mattel took charge and acted in a socially responsible way by fulfilling the duties required . Mattel's corporate responsibility mission is to act with integrity in everything they did to bring the world safe toys the adults trust and kids love. By behaving responsible Mattel has impacted the people, products, and the world. Mattel took initiative to rise above the 2007 crisis by working with the CPSC so the Bob Eckert (CEO of Mattel) could broadcast an apology to the parents via internet because the conduct code that incorporated the factories located overseas, the contractors, and the suppliers addressed a list of approved suppliers and the approved paint that could be used and the reason for this measure was to make sure that the company standards were respected and not bypassed.

Mattel's actions could be considered as ethical because as soon as a problem was brought to their attention, they did what was needed to express their sincere apologies and right the wrong.“The essence of a good reputation rests not in trying to conjure up a good story to hide substandard performance, but in sensitizing management to the need to adjust performance so the deeds speak for themselves”(Regester, 2008, pg.206). Mattel board directors presented oversight of the company's corporate social responsibility initiatives by adding corporate social responsibility to the topics that were discussed by the existing Nominations/Corporate Governance committee. The committee was renamed The Governance and Social Responsibility commitee. Taking the appropriate steps to correct the issue and doing it in a responsible way shows the character of the company and lands them back into good standings. In the 2009 Global Citizenship Report, it said “Toy safety has been and will continue to be the highest priority at Mattel. Over the years, we have earned a reputation as the industry leader, which made the voluntary recalls in 2007 all the more disappointing for us. Yet, we are proud of the way in which we responded by taking immediate and unprecedented action to communicate globally.

I told our employees that through challenging times comes the opportunity to be better and I believe that we did become a stronger and better company because of this experience”(Eckert, 2009, pg.2)). In situations like this one, there are things that could have been done different. For instance, Mattel could of possibly avoided this massive recall if the company either produced their own paint to ensure it meets the safety requirements or contracted just one company to make the paint so that a vendor does not pair up with a supplier who's paint would be dangerous to kids.

Whenever a crisis breaks out or an important issue needs to be addressed, people start to point fingers and blame who they can. Yes, the paint came from a supplier and Mattel was not the actual col prate, the fault initially falls on the toy company for not having better safety measures to begin with. Our capitalistic society faults Mattel for the recall because Mattel instilled a lot of trust and confidence into the twenty five year relationship they shared with China's manufacturers and in turn this led to the decrease in quality checks being performed at the location spots of the manufacturers. It is ultimately Mattel's responsibility that children were exposed to potentially harmful toys.

So, what is the best way to make sure toys are safe for kids to play with? Among different criteria, effective training, communication, and efforts are the key things to make sure all products abide by the American Safety standards. Government Regulators suggest that safety systems being installed where the products are manufactured will increase surveillance enforcement to ensure that harmful imports are not arriving from other countries. Consumer advocates provide better confidence and trust for the consumer since the consumer is hesitant on trusting the company or the government to enforce the safety of our kids. Weiss discusses,“Consumer Advocacy groups have been responsible for the voluntary recall of toys because of potential danger to our children”(Weiss, 2000, pg.223).

This group suggests that producing federal regulatory testing and mandating inspections is a sure way to keep children safe as they play. The toy industry has a mandatory program that test standard events in order to confirm that the products are meeting the United States safety requirements; develop testing methods. The toy industry works with the government to execute legislation. The standard-setting organization group feels that they can help with the safety of children's toys by requesting that suppliers abide by and maintain the tough standards and regulations that have been put in place to protect the people. This organization wants to make sure the system is improved by regularly evaluating and assessing who is conducting the evaluations. People who purchase toys need a piece of mind that manufacturers are doing their job conducting test to guarantee they are safe to put on the shelves for purchase. Children's product retailers want stern safety measures in place and practiced by the manufacturers and the reinforcement of federal legislation.

This particular group wants a Consumer Product Safety Commission that is effective and dedicated in stopping harmful products before they hit the shelves. Retailers suggest that better production code stamping and packaging will make it easier to trace safety problems when the problem first begins and putting together a better system to recall product. All these groups have different ways of thinking and each claim a different point of view proving that the wide concern of safety in the manufacturing business diversifies. Although there are different points of view, there is one common concern among these groups and that is the safety of the people that come in contact with the products. Each group shares a responsibility in the factory, in the product on the shelve, for the consumer, and sometimes in recalling a product. At different times, at different levels; these groups provide protection. Product safety is of high importance when it comes to toys for children.

Opinions are plentiful when it comes to protecting our children from dangerous toys, but the best way is to stay aware and promote for consistent, continual monitoring of product safety. One thought to consider would be to not purchase or make anything produced in a country that holds lower standards. Another way is to encourage and promote input from our society to come up with several different ways to help make toys safe. The people of society depend on the standards to be met and have no problem standing up for their beliefs and rights on the behalf of children. When there is an issue with the product, society will demand the product to be corrected or demand that it be removed from the shelves.

The role of a stakeholder is powerful and important in helping identify and address problems that may be of concern to them. They do this by bringing fresh issues to management's attention, providing capital, keeping close watch on corporate performance, and guarantee the efficient operation of stock markets. Stakeholder value transparency, honesty and respect.

Mattel's stakeholders are just as diverse as there are global, ranging from employees, people of the contractor factories in China, to the parents and kids who purchase Mattel's products all over the world. Mattel has different ways to communicate with their stakeholders needs. To consumers, they provide information and receive feedback through product packaging, website interaction, help lines and call centers, customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups. Mattel interacts with consumer product advocacy groups through industry associations. Mattel's sales team is the staff that works with the retailers, no matter the size, and receives added insights about their main costumer; the consumer. Mattel will also receive feedback from their retail customers through different company and industry-hosted toy events. Whatever the communication method may be, it is always with integrity. Mattel is committed to upholding an pen dialogue with their stakeholders. Mattel plans to raise their quantitative performance reporting, integrate stakeholder feedback and provide extra independent monitoring results for their supply chain.

We conclude that Mattel neglected to provide effective safety measures causing the 2007 Mattel toy recall due to subcontractors using suppliers who were not approved resulting in the toys becoming contaminated with lead in the paint. Toys containing lead-based paint are toxic and dangerous for children. As the lead oxidizes it has a sweet taste that kids enjoy and when the paint chips peel off and are swallowed it can lead to lead poisoning. Being as Mattel stands by integrity, The company fulfilled their corporate social responsibility in an ethical manner. Mattel updated the security measures required in order to prevent this chaos again. Kids are our future and it is societies obligation to help protect the children from any potential dangers that may be proposed.


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  2. Lawrence, A. T. & Weber, J. (2011). Business and society: Stakeholders, ethics, public policy (13th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. ISBN: 978-0-07-813715-0
  3. Miller, E.W., & Miller, R.M.(1998). Indoor Pollution: a reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO., In Contemporary World Issues.
  4. Regester, M., & Larkin, J.(2008) Risk Issues and Crisis Management in Public Relations: A Casebook of Best Practices(4th ed.). Kogan Page ltd.
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  6. Story, L., & Barboza, D.(2007). Nytimes: Mattel recalls 19 million toys sent from China., retrieved from:
  7. The Associated Press(2007).Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved from: http:// search. Proquest. com.
  8. Weiss, A.(2000). Good Enough Isn't Enough: nine challenges for companies that chose to be great. New York, AMACOM.2000
Updated: Jul 06, 2022
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Mattel Corporation's Toys' Recall essay
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