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Davis ThinkingDavis Thinking } analysis and interpretation

Poison Me Once, Shame on China; Poison Me Twice, Shame on America.

J. Kevin Ament
Tuesday, August 14, 2007


It appears Baby Einstein isn’t the only company peddling products that may retard our children. On Tuesday, toy maker Mattel announced its second major recall in as many weeks .


Regarded as one of the safest toy manufacturers in America, Mattel’s well-earned reputation is flaking off faster than lead-laced paint chips from a Fisher-Price figurine. Mattel Chairman Bob Eckert would have you believe it’s those damn Chinese, but when will American companies start taking responsibility for their supply chain decisions?


This morning, in several national newspapers, a full-page apology from Bob followed the crisis management team’s bullet points to the letter. Bob calmly explained that "Nothing is more important than the safety of our children." Now I don’t expect executive seppuku or government executions, but I’d like to see a little candor.


I’d like to see Bob step in front of a camera and say “We’ve sacrificed safety for low price for the last time. It’s time American corporations wake up. We can’t have our low-cost toys and eat them too. We must stop building our brands upon the Chinese Manufacturing house of cards.” Instead we got “solution-oriented” flimflam. And that’s dangerous.


It’s dangerous because as long as we focus on individual recalls, the true scope of the problem remains hidden. We need a real dialogue about the costs of our low, low prices, and that means looking beyond Wal-Mart. Sub-par manufacturing practices farmed out to the lowest bidder are making us sick , killing our pets , and putting our children at risk. American brands need to make fundamental changes, or soon shoppers won’t differentiate between a tag that reads “Made in China,” and one that reads “Mattel.”



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