Chinese Humiliate Mattel in Stage-Managed Press Conference

24 September 2007

BEIJING: Reminiscent of China's notorious show trials in which purported enemies of the state recant their 'crimes', US toy giant Mattel on Friday handed a grovelling public apology to "the Chinese People" for its part in a series of product recalls of Chinese-manufactured toys.

In what the Financial Times deems a "carefully stage-managed" event in the Chinese capital, Mattel evp for worldwide operations Thomas Debrowski read aloud from a script that minimized the role of Chinese factories in the debacle.

Confessed Debrowski: "Mattel takes full responsibility for these recalls and apologises personally to you, the Chinese people, and all of our customers who received the toys."

The recantation by the hapless veep acknowledged that much of the blame for the product flaws lay not with the Virtuous Workers of the Glorious People's Republic but with the running-dog capitalists at Mattel, who were culpable of "design flaws".

Which doesn't exactly square with the statement made last week to the US Senate by Mattel's ceo Robert Eckert: "We were let down, and so we let you [the US people] down."

According to London-based China expert Joe Lampel, Mattel's humiliating performance is commercially driven. The firm's management, he opined "have to salvage some of their business relationship with China; they need the goodwill of its government."

The shape of things to come?

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff