We interrupt this blog for a commercial

As you know (hopefully) I’ve been blogging a series called “My Christmas PR Wish” where we’ve been looking at how members of the communications field are portrayed as “the new scrooges” of holiday films, show and books.

I’d like to take a slight break from the series with something that I just couldn’t pass up writing about.

You may have seen a social media post about the Fisher-Price Happy Hour Playset. If not, it’s pictured above.


Over the past couple of weeks when everyone has toy shopping on their minds, I’ve seen some friends post this and I chuckled. Having grown up playing with Fisher-Price toys and having purchased them for my own kids years ago, I knew that there was no way this was real.  Without reading the accompanying article, I knew it was a joke.  After all, Fisher-Price has a reputation of being a toy company who offers long-lasting, iconic, innocent toys.

But, apparently some people didn’t know it was a joke created by a comedian.


At the end of this week, major news outlets caught wind that some people were upset with the thought of this toy and took to social media to share their rage.  Come on, people.  Can’t we take a joke anymore?

And just like that, Fisher-Price, a division of Mattel, has a public relations crisis on their hands. Like the FBI’s dump of Hillary Clinton’s emails right before the election, this probably couldn’t have happened at a worse time: two weeks before Christmas.

It would be one thing if this happened because of a toy malfunction that caused injuries, a CEO who embezzled the company funds, or some other in-house error.

But, like so many PR crises these days, they hit you from left field, out of the blue, and not from anything you and/or your company did.

I can only hope that their PR team had a plan in place when they started seeing the joke meme of the fake Happy Hour Playset.

But, I’m not so sure that they did, and here’s why.

  1. Neither the Mattel nor Fisher-Price websites contain updated press releases. The last update was in October. 

    Screen shot of Mattel press releases on their corporate website taken at 10AM this morning

    2. The last tweet Fisher-Price posted was on November 28.


    Last tweet from Fisher-Price taken in November 2016

    3. There has also been no mention of the fake Happy Hour Playset in the Mattel tweets.


    Mattel tweets as of 10:35 AM today

    3. The only thing Mattel and Fisher-Price has said about this is “to reply to those complaining on Twitter with a statement saying, “‘Please know that this product is not endorsed, produced or approved by Fisher-Price.'” -via The Today Show

    Hmm.  Given the fact that this story is still trending on social media and that Christmas is two weeks away, I’m not sure that the Mattel/Fisher-Price PR team is handling this properly.  I’d be interested in tracking this story to see if this impacts Mattel’s and Fisher-Price’s toy sales this quarter.

If I were on their team, I would have been actively following any mention of our brand.  I would have immediately gotten ahead of the story by posting a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer when the meme first started circulating.  When I saw that people were upset, I would have not only answered their concerns, but issued more press-releases and maybe even made sure an executive made the rounds on some talk shows.  In other words, I would have sought to control the story instead of the story controlling the company.  Isn’t that part of the PR team’s responsibility? 

By the way, Fisher-Price, I’m looking for work! 

How would you handle this situation?


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