Maclaren And The Recall

Looking for just a little more proof that social media can spread its tentacles far and wide -- and get results by engaging both moms and brands? Simply Google or Twitter Search "MacLaren Stroller Recall."

The Proof

Last week, Maclaren, a U.K.-based stroller company, issued a voluntary recall on one million of its strollers in the United States and offered free repair kits to those same U.S. customers. The strollers were being blamed for a dozen fingertip amputations and lacerations in children.

Maclaren's own recall site states, "Consistent with our unwavering commitment to child safety, we are providing U.S. consumers notice of a voluntary recall of all Maclaren umbrella strollers sold in the U.S."

Parents in other parts of the world were apparently not given the same assurance.

If this was a movie, you would have seen a quick cut to parents pushing strollers on the streets of the U.K. and Japan, only to stop dead, bubbles of confused thought appearing above their heads, "What about us?"



But instead of sitting in their neighborhood parks or chatting on the phone about feeling ignored, what do you think they did?

Correct. They added their voice to the every-growing social media chatter. One site even created a downloadable template to request the repair kit for customers in the U.K.

Apparently, that collective voice came through loud and clear at Maclaren's headquarters. By the end of last week, things were changing.

The Response

In an interview with the Financial Times, Farzad Rastegar, the CEO of Maclaren USA, pledged to supply repair kits to their customers anywhere in the world.

Also at issue for this nearly 45-year-old company: they seemingly were not ready for news of the recall to hit. Reports of jammed phone lines, non-working online links, overloaded sites, and Twitter accounts that circled back into the unknown made for some poor feedback.

It seems Maclaren now has personal knowledge of the power of social media.

As of this writing, a quick Google search for "Maclaren Fingertip Amputation" pulled up 425,000 results in .36 seconds.

The Good and the Bad

For Maclaren, this has not been its best two-week run. This is a company whose site claims, "Maclaren is a premier British parenting lifestyle company that produces the world's most safe, durable, innovative, and stylish baby buggies, strollers ..."

The tough news: Parents are likely not associating the word "safe" with Maclaren at the moment. The company made quite a few missteps - it wasn't ready for the influx of parents wanting to be reassured, and it believed, for some reason, that a recall for only a portion of its customer base was a good idea.

The good news: Within 24 hours of the recall being announced, U.S. customers were able to get the answers they needed and by the end of the week, Maclaren had acknowledged an error in judgment, therefore making repair kits available to everyone.

While I still can't find an official Twitter feed for Maclaren, I do know that it is utilizing YouTube to illustrate how its strollers can be opened safely -- once the hinge covers are in place. This video is only a week old, so it is clearly in response to the recall and its resulting chatter.

Whether or not brands and companies choose to engage moms online, moms will choose to reach out to each other -- to support, to inform, to spread good news, to protect, to complain.

The brands and companies choosing to talk back will be the ones who end up with the stronger online reputations.

4 comments about "Maclaren And The Recall".
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  1. Stephanie Piche from Mingle Media TV, November 18, 2009 at 12:50 p.m.

    Very well written article Danielle. You are so right to point out the importance of LISTENING to your audience especially Moms who will come together to get the word out - in lightning speed. Engaging conversations - good, bad or indifferent are part of doing business, ignoring them can only do more harm.

  2. Anissa Wardell from The Publicists Assistant, November 18, 2009 at 9:47 p.m.

    Great article. I feel like a lone cheerleader sometimes for moms. Although there are many out there that are vocal, try getting men 20-50 who own online businesses to listen...they don't all get it. More than that, most don't take the time to understand how moms can be of benefit to them.

    On that note, I think Eureka vacuums needs to be in the social scene, yet, I haven't found them in Twitter or any other social site. I could mention more companies, I just think they ought to be smart enough to get in where conversations are taking place.

    I agree that those brands that are online and are engaging will be the winners, even if they hit a bump or two, as long as they address it quickly, they will be much farther ahead than those who do not.

  3. Dori Pitzner from andCulture, November 19, 2009 at 4:38 p.m.

    Actually, I tried to use the recall site and found that it required information that was not, in fact, on my 2005 stroller. Then I tried to email the company at the email address provided for the recall. Gmail tried for three days to get it through before it finally failed. For me, McLaren is still a total #fail.

  4. Ali McHugh, November 19, 2009 at 5:25 p.m.

    I think you described how Moms or Mums (as we are called in the UK) felt about the 'stroller recall' very well.

    The Brits have a reputation for a 'stiff upper lip' we simply don't like to make a fuss. Maclaren didn't have to recall the strollers in the UK, because there were very few complaints raised to our equivalent of the CPSC, the Trading Institute. However, there were cases of fingertip amputation in the UK but the parents thought they were isolated incidents. Once the traditional media had brought these people forward, social media gave parents a platform to act.

    Instead of complaining - British parents made their voices heard via the social networks. This is a great example of how parents across the globe can communicate and support each other.

    I think Maclaren was very surprised by the overall reaction in the UK.

    It was very exciting and has given me much confidence that by acting together online parents can make a difference and improve the products and services available to them.

    Thank you for referencing my site,
    Ali @mindfulmum

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