Talk About Bad Timing

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Mattel execs barely had time enjoy the story in the New York Times last week about how their product safety and worker protection practices were, though not perfect, a model for companies manufacturing in China. William Moss, a China-based PR professional, wrote on his Imagethief blog about how the story gave Mattel the sort of boost that no advertising could provide. It didn’t come without some risk on their part, he wrote, especially at a time when few companies want to say anything about their production in China, good or bad. How true. Less than a week later, the company isn’t looking as pretty. Today the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a recall of nearly one million toys made in China for Mattel’s Fisher-Price division because of lead paint. Mattel apparently knew it had lead paint on some of its products in early July, before it took the Times reporter on a tour of a factory and safety lab in China, according to the newspaper’s story today. But the story goes on to report that Mattel officials say at the time they weren’t sure of the scale of the problem.