If you’re a parent and your kids love Dreamworks’ Trolls videos you likely have seen their latest “World Tour” video and all the toys that followed.
One such toy is the Trolls World Tour Giggle and Sing Poppy Doll.
At first glance, there’s nothing inherently wrong. However, one mother posted a video on social media that has parents fuming and Hasbro quickly pulling dolls from stores.
Unbelievably, as of the time of this article (early afternoon on Aug. 7), Hasbro hasn’t posted a status on either its Twitter or Facebook pages regarding the video.
So far, it appears Hasbro only responded to The Providence Journal regarding the outrage over the inappropriate placement of the button and the noises the doll makes when it’s pressed.
“This feature was designed to react when the doll was seated, but we recognize the placement of the sensor may be perceived as inappropriate,” Hasbro spokeswoman Julie Duffy said in an email to The Providence Journal. “This was not intentional and we are happy to provide consumers with a replacement Poppy doll of similar value through our consumer care team. We are in the process of removing the item for purchase.”
It was designed to react that way when seated? Really?
Who makes that noise when they are in the process of sitting down?
Maybe I’m different, but when I was young I didn’t make any noise. Now that I’m getting dangerously close to 30, when I go to sit down (especially after hitting the gym) the noises I make aren’t gasps and giggles. They’re cries of agony.
So, again, I ask who you know that makes that noise when they sit down?
I also happen to be a parent of an 8-year-old daughter who loves the Trolls. When I read that statement I used a word that doesn’t belong in a PG movie. Much like a toy representing a character from a PG movie shouldn’t inhale sharply and say, “Woo!” when you touch its privates.
Now, I have talked to my daughter about not allowing anyone to touch her private area. I recommend all parents to do so when they feel the time is right.
Unfortunately, this doll may have robbed many parents of having the choice of when to have that conversation. No, it isn’t the end of the world and maybe I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill.
But this is all shockingly stupid to me.
You’re going to tell me that the designer of this toy didn’t recognize what they made was inappropriate? OK. But are you then going to tell me no one who oversaw the making of this toy raised their hand and said, “Maybe our toy shouldn’t have a button in between its legs. And, if it does, maybe it shouldn’t sound like its gasping with pleasure and giggling when you press it?”
I would be even more shocked and *censored* if that didn’t happen. How lacking in common sense are they?
And that response!
I’d have respected them more if they simply stated, “We are aware the Trolls World Tour Giggle and Sing Poppy Doll has features that could be considered inappropriate. We are pulling the toy and investigating how the toy was approved for sale.”
Instead, they defended themselves and came up with a dumb excuse.
I honestly believe someone spoke up too late regarding the button and Poppy’s reactions.
As Lead Stories noted, while there’s no mention of the button on the packaging, Hasbro did mention the button in product descriptions elsewhere that say: “When you sit her down, she makes other funny sounds, too!”
There’s also other versions of the doll without the button, further making me think they realized the mistake and attempted a late fix.
No, I don’t believe they’re grooming our children to be OK with being touched by pedophiles as some other concerned individuals do.
However, I do think this entire chain of decisions on the part of Hasbro highlights a couple things:
1. Companies cannot afford to tune out public opinion on social issues. They need to understand the social context in which they operate at all times and the communication team that is steeped in that knowledge needs to work with the rest of the company integrally, not just when #&@! hits the fan. Speaking of which…
2. The need for better (or any) crisis communication.
Somehow, Hasbro does have in-house public relations staff. Just another part in this that makes me just…sigh in disbelief.
If you’re a business owner and you’re wondering how to handle a crisis should one arise, generally speaking, here’s how any public relations professional would advise you to proceed.
How crisis communication should be handled
- First, always anticipate a crisis. Could be a tornado(heaven forbid), your CFO could do something awful (heaven forbid), or it could be a chemical spill (you get the idea). Have plans ready for all of your potential crises.
- Assess the crisis. Time is of the essence, but don’t respond before you have the facts. If you have to, release a statement saying you’re aware of what happened and you’ll have more information soon. Don’t try to cover it up. If you don’t know something, say so. It’s better than lying or saying “no comment”.
- Inform your employees and let them know who is and who is not allowed to speak on behalf of the company (obviously you can’t tell them to literally not speak…at all). They will be asked by those who are aware they work for your company their opinion. Tell them who to point to for information regarding the crisis.
- Send information to your employees, suppliers, customers – all your stakeholders – throughout the process. Don’t make them hear about it on the news.
- Release updates when you have them. Do this as frequently as you can.
- Be honest. If you aren’t and people find out about it…you’ll have another crisis on your hands. Take responsibility and apologize.