Monday, December 14, 2009

VERITAS TOUCHDOWN: MR. SQUIGGLES KNOWS HIS CRISIS MANAGEMENT

This week's perspective from Orli Giroux Namian:

On the other side of this story, Cepia, the small St. Louis company that owns the Zhu Zhu Pets line deserves a Touchdown for its swift action in a crisis situation. Cepia CEO Russel Hornsby happened to be in China, expediting production of Mr. Squiggles and other Zhu Zhu Pets when news hit that Good Guide had issued its damaging test results that could possibly have led to a mass recall and even the complete shutdown of the company. Hornsby, a veteran of Mattel, knew that millions of parents, distributors and retailers would be influenced by Good Guide’s alarming results and knew he had to act quickly. Cepia’s first successful play was to hire a crisis communications firm. Hornsby immediately issued a statement standing firmly by its product and made its own third party independent test results public showing Zhu Zhu products were safe. Cepia also had a spokesperson front and centre to speak to media and to defend their product. The real crisis quasher was the quick reaction and response from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which declared Mr. Squiggles safe and Good Guide testing guidelines insufficient less than 48 hours later, after having run the toy through their own product recall review process. As other communicators have pointed out, “once you have government regulators on your side, its game over. You are no longer the villain.” Both Cepia’s actions and quick handling of the issue lead to the “quick exoneration of Mr. Squiggles.” Parents can now breathe easy and go ahead with plans to put the popular plush hamster under the tree.

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