Toy Industry Needs Self-Regulatory Quality Control Following Mattel Recalls, Says Crisis PR Executive Brian Dobson of; Crisis Preparedness Often Averts Problems

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Crisis and toy industry PR expert Brian Dobson says toy giant Mattel's third recall in just over one month points to the need for crisis preparedness systems that often identify weaknesses and point to need for corrective actions before problems develop.

Toy industry leadership should act to set quality standards, rebuild consumer confidence and regain business opportunity in the aftermath of recalls by industry leader Mattel Inc., said Brian Dobson, of

"Mattel's recalls should be a wake up call to a wide range of industries. Crisis preparedness is vital to all companies operating in the global marketplace. The discipline of preparing for crisis often identifies weaknesses and leads to corrective actions before problems get out of hand," he said.

Combining toy industry experience with crisis communications expertise, Dobson said, "Crisis begets crisis. The toy industry is in new territory and has become identified with lax quality control. Industry leaders, such as the Toy Industry Association, should encourage members to self-govern product quality."

In just over one month, Mattel recalled more than 20 million toys, including yesterday's announcement, made in conjunction with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to recall a reported 800,000 items. The third recall involves 675,000 Barbie doll brand accessories as well as toys under its Fisher-Price brand that have lead-tainted paint. A previous recall involved toys with small magnets children might swallow.

"This is a massive industry problem that will take years to correct," Dobson noted. "Toy companies thinking they have sidestepped the recall issue are not facing reality. Consumer confidence has been shaken."

Dobson said, "Crisis preparedness would have helped avert some of the problems." He noted, "The discipline of preparing for crisis helps identify problems so preventive and corrective actions can be taken. In effective crisis management planning, quality and other significant issues come front and center."

Dobson's public relations company managed communications for mega-hits such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during the 1990s to the recent top hit Dragon Ball Z. The agency's represented Irwin Toy, when it was Canada's #1 toy company; Trendmasters during strong years and Happiness Express, when featured on the cover of Business Week. In the children's intellectual property industry, Dobson has represented top licensing and merchandising companies in the U.S. and Europe.

"The principles of crisis management are applicable across a spectrum of industries. As business becomes increasingly global from point of production to point of sale, crisis management also become increasingly important, especially considering disparities in government regulation from one country to another."

Dobson Communications, online at , specializes in building brand values and is expert in Crisis Communications and Marketing Public Relations for industries and institutions, including extensive experience in the children's entertainment and the toy industry.

Dobson said, "With about 80% of the toys sold in the United States made in China, the public expects U.S. safety standards to be met by imported goods. Profits from cheap production should result in better pricing and better quality control."

Dobson said, "In business, you get what you inspect, not what you expect. The price of inexpensive labor can become abundantly high when a company losses brand value and image."

Last month, Dobson accurately publicly forecast that Mattel's lax attention to quality would kick off increased public awareness, more news coverage, Congressional and regulatory hearings and a decline in consumer confidence. "Each of these is now happening," he said.

Dobson's public relations firm has managed communications of crises from product recalls to protect tampering to major lawsuits and quality issues to management failures. He is also expert in entertainment brand building, particularly for the children's entertainment sector. In 2004, he addressed the bi-annual China Culture Forum about what it takes to succeed in markets as in North America or Europe. He stressed attention to quality as vital to success."

Dobson is a former journalist for both Dow Jones and Reuters, where he wrote the stock market commentary, and entered public relations at the New York Stock Exchange before heading public relations at two major corporations, including American Brands, then a Fortune 50, prior to opening his public relations agency.

Dobson Communications, based in New York City and Ridgefield, Connecticut, is online at with its video wing at


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