Bending to pressure, Fisher-Price recalls motorized infant cradle

It had hoped to get by with a warning to consumers about its Rock ’n Play Sleeper, but public outrage compelled the company to take a more drastic measure. Is it too little, too late?

Fisher-Price has been deliberate, perhaps excessively so, in its crisis response.

The company has slowly ratcheted up its message to quell backlash to news that its Rock ’n Play Sleeper has been linked to more than 30 infant fatalities in the past 10 years.

Fisher-Price insists the recall is voluntary and that it takes safety seriously. However, the delayed response has kept the crisis in the news for another week and seems to have undercut the company’s messaging.

Bloomberg wrote:

Fisher-Price recalled nearly 5 million infant sleepers on Friday after more than 30 babies died in them over a 10-year period.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said anyone who bought a Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play sleeper should stop using it right away and contact Fisher-Price for a refund or voucher. The sleepers, which are used to put babies to sleep, are soft padded cradles that vibrate.

Fisher-Price and the CPSC said the deaths occurred after infants rolled over from their backs to their stomachs or sides while unrestrained, but did not specify how they died. In an article this week, Consumer Reports found that some of the infants died from suffocation.

A safety warning was issued last week, but The American Academy of Pediatrics urged Fisher-Price and the CPSC to recall the sleepers, calling them “deadly.”

Fisher-Price and its parent company, Mattel, continue to defend its safety record with statements to news outlets and online.

CNBC reported:

The regulator said consumers should immediately stop using the product and contact Fisher-Price for a refund or voucher.

“We stand by the safety of our products. However, due to reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to the safety warnings and instructions, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall of the Rock ’n Play Sleeper in partnership with the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Fisher Price-owner Mattel said.

The recall comes after the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning to parents about the risks to babies over six months old using the sleeper. In the original response, Fisher-Price and Mattel tried to find a middle ground between simple guidance about product safety and a full recall.

As previously reported on PR Daily:

Fisher-Price’s parent company Mattel was careful to acknowledge how heartbreaking it is to lose a child.

It wrote in a statement in its newsroom:

A child fatality is an unimaginable tragedy.

Fisher-Price has a long, proud tradition of prioritizing safety as the cornerstone of our mission. Generations of parents have trusted us for almost 90 years to provide safe products for their children. We are there with you from the moment you bring your child home and take our responsibility for product safety very seriously.

Today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Fisher-Price have jointly issued an alert warning parents and caregivers to discontinue use of the Rock ’n Play Sleeper when infants begin to roll over. To ensure a safe sleep environment for infants, we remind parents and caregivers to follow all safety warnings included with the product: always use the provided restraints, always place infants on their backs to sleep, and make sure that no pillows, blankets or extra padding are placed in the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper. The Rock ‘n Play Sleeper meets all applicable safety standards, including those of the international standards organization, known as ASTM International, and is certified by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA).

Fisher-Price and every one of our employees take the responsibility of being part of your family seriously, and we are committed to earning that trust every day.

Fisher-Price described the recall as voluntary, done in partnership with the CSPC.

It shared the news on Twitter, using the same visual style as its earlier announcement for the CSPC’s safety warning.

Some users responded to the post from Fisher-Price to defend the sleeper and criticize user error, but Fisher Price quickly shut down that avenue of conversation.

Others found the delayed recall from Fisher-Price to be suspicious:

As consumers used Twitter to reach out for more information, Fisher-Price directed consumers to its website.

Fisher-Price also created a landing page with a statement about sleeping safety and a video.

It wrote:

For almost 90 years, Fisher-Price has made the safety of children and the quality of our products our highest priority. It’s a commitment without compromise.

In recent days, however, questions have been raised about the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper – that’s why today, we are announcing a voluntary recall of all units of the product.

While we continue to stand by the safety of all of our products, given the reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to safety warnings and instructions, we’ve decided in partnership with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), that this voluntary recall is the best course of action.

Consumers should stop using the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper and can contact Fisher-Price immediately for a refund or voucher. (See details below)

With these actions, we want parents around the world to know that safety will always be a cornerstone of our mission, that we are committed to these values, and will continue to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of the infants and preschoolers who utilize our products.

The video helped the company put a human face on the crisis response, but GM Chuck Scothon’s statement directly into the camera might come across as austere.

Despite the polish and professionalism of Fisher-Price’s video, an interview with Scothon might have delivered more compassionate messaging.

What do you think of the company’s recall message and of its crisis response overall?

(Image via)

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