Mattel Moves To Rebuild Trust

With its back-to-back product recalls, Mattel--the world's largest toy maker and the home, among others, of Fisher-Price toys, American Girls dolls, Matchbox cars and, of course, Barbie--has been thrown into the center of a boiling debate over the safety of products made in China.

Mattel has been manufacturing in Asia far longer than many companies (the first Barbie was made there in 1959). That led to long-term relationships with certain Chinese contractors, many spanning decades. Paradoxically, that appears to have contributed to Mattel's problems: the longer it outsourced to a factory supplier with good results, the looser the leash became.

Out of the public eye, Mattel is cleaning house. It has fired four subcontractors and is evaluating more. As part of its effort to rebuild its image, it is emphasizing that it is less dependent on Chinese contractors than most toy makers. It has run ads around the world featuring CEO Robert A. Eckert's vow to do better.

Read the whole story at The New York Times »