Oriental Trading Company

In 2007, discoveries of lead in children’s toys resulted in a high level of public scrutiny over consumer products manufactured in China. As an established institution in the gift and toy industry, The Oriental Trading Company had a solid history of product safety and customer service. Regardless, the company understood that that reputation was not enough to protect the brand in the event of a major recall when spiked with heightened political and media attention. As such, The Herald Group was tasked with ensuring the company was prepared to weather this recall storm and maintain or enhance its reputation.

Objectives and Strategies: To prepare Oriental Trading for the immediate crisis as well as future events, The Herald Group quickly put a comprehensive crisis communications and perception management plan into action. Working closely with the Oriental Trading Company leadership and communications team, The Herald Group developed new messaging and relevant fact sheets as well as prepared the company’s key spokespeople for potentially aggressive media interviews. A list of supportive third party champions was developed and vetted to serve as media surrogates should the need arise. Beyond the crisis at hand, The Herald Group developed a robust crisis communications manual for the Oriental Trading Company that outlined the core crisis communications team, a checklist of tasks should a crisis occur and an analysis tool to determine what actions to take given the severity of the crisis. The Herald Group also served as the primary media contact during the fervor over lead contamination.

Result: Oriental Trading Company emerged from the lead crisis with its reputation firmly in tact. The few media stories that mentioned the company did so in a way that showcased Oriental Trading’s commitment to product safety through routine and thorough product testing and vendor evaluations. The company also implemented the crisis communications program developed by The Herald Group in order to be prepared for future events.