Cepia LLC is probably living a PR nightmare now, as news about its top-selling toy surfaced on the web. The first time the company had to deal with this issue was in early November, when Walmart had to stop the sales, to build up the stock for an upcoming sale. Back then, Walmart’s Melissa O’Brien, Senior Manager PR & Brand Reputation told digtriad.com: “We’d love to clear up any miscommunication that started about these. They absolutely have not been recalled. In a handful of stores, a few hamsters were placed on shelves too early, and therefore their sale was already blocked until this Sunday.” Walmart apologized for the inconvenience, and things got back to normal. The Zhu Zhu Pets frenzy went on, as planned, during the Black Friday, and it continues today, when other recall rumors surface, this time based on a customer report by Good Guide.
Good Guide found antimony, a metal with potential health hazards in Mr. Squiggles’ fur. The federal limit for this toxin is 60 parts per million, but Mr. Squiggles had 93 parts per million in the fur, and 103 in the nose. Good Guide also found tin in the tested Zhu Zhu Pets, which is potentially harmful to the immune and nervous systems.
To counter the Good Guide’s findings, Cepia LLC issued a press release, with the subtitle: “Hottest toy of the holiday season passes the industry’s most stringent consumer health and safety certification standards.”
Believing a manufacturer press release, full of sales hype and self-serving statements is hard, but at least Cepia is trying. However, the approach is wrong.
“We are contacting the Good Guide people at this moment to share with them all of our Mr. Squiggles and Zhu Zhu Pet testing data so we can get to the bottom of how their report was founded,” Cepia LLC CEO Russ Hornsby said.
It’s not the Good Guide I am concerned about. If these testing data results do exist, they should be made public via the cited press release, and on Cepia’s website, as well as on zhuzhupets.com. Good Guide is a company with a sturdy reputation in the industry. Their interest is not to steal Cepia’s thunder, but to protect the consumers. The safety issue should be addressed by Cepia directly to its consumers and business partners. Until Cepia can actually prove its statements, Good Guide’s findings stand in my view.