2 days ago, reports that our kids’ favourite cartoon characters (Peppa Pig – pictured, Frozen, Disney and Dora the Explorer) were dangerous to children. Branded crayon sets sold through retail stores contained Asbestos. Most of the time, these mistakes never make it to the public like this, however when it does, it doesn’t spell great news for your brand. Here’s how to avoid what is a very damaging mistake.
We’ve seen a lot of fails in our time from companies looking to ‘go it alone’ and not paying careful attention to testing, quality control and Australian consumer laws. Here are 4 of the worst cases.
‘Fire Engine Red’ a company looked to produce 10,000 gear bags and wanted a vibrant red, which they called ‘fire engine red’. The order was urgent (naturally) and the Chinese factory was very eager to please their new customer, so they sent a worker down to their local fire station with a PMS colour book to get the exact colour. The biggest issue was that the fire engines in this province were a bright lime green colour and inevitably, the customer received 10,000 bags in lime green.
‘Doesn’t like to Travel’ floating pens are a popular item, essentially they have a liquid filled barrel and include floating graphics or logos within. Providing that you aren’t in a hurry and don’t mind waiting for them to arrive by sea freight, they will arrive in relatively good working order. An Australian company quickly found that their great idea of air freighting their stock in to get them sooner was a mistake. The barrels in the pressurised cabin exploded, leaving them with no product and a cleaning fee from their cargo carrier.
‘Choking Hazard’ plush toys are a popular merchandise item and an order was placed with a Chinese factory for 50,000 plush teddy bears. The Australian graphic artist thought that button eyes were a cute touch and specified this to their client, who agreed. The teddy bears were produced and subsequently rejected upon entry into Australia as not fit for sale. The buttons were a choking hazard. The teddy bears are now taking up landfill in WA.
‘Not fit for purpose’ an Australian fitness/supplement provider was looking to run a promotion with a range of drinkware to complement their new range launch. They engaged an overseas factory to produce a large volume of drink bottles and meticulously ensured that the product was food grade plastic and BPA free. What they failed to test was the quality of the bottle build, the drink bottles leaked (faulty mould during tooling). A drink bottle that doesn’t hold water wasn’t suitable to be released and all bottles needed to be destroyed.
In all of the above cases, the issues could have been avoided.
• Be scientific/exact. If the product feature/colour/design cannot be explained in precise terms, it can be misunderstood.
• Testing is crucial, just because a factory specialises in this type of product doesn’t mean that all onus of responsibility falls on them. If you’ve dealt with China before, you’ll have learnt quickly that if an error occurs, regardless of who is at fault, it is your problem.
• Understand the local market conditions, health/safety/standards of the country it is to be imported in.
• Accept that it takes as long as it takes, speeding up the process without the proper systems in place generally leads to corner cutting and ultimately a less than stellar result for you.
• On average there are 25+ touch points during the manufacture process, if you are looking to do this yourself, be prepared to take on the responsibility for controlling the production process.
Red Energy Promotions has often developed product ideas with quick turnaround after companies have tried and not succeeded, if you are looking for something unique, talk to us and we can develop a solution for you that ticks all of the boxes.