Public Relations

Ogilvy PR Washington DC

American Chemistry Council

Toxic Toys

Toxic Toys

Swift action helps neutralize negative coverage.
Toxic toys. Could any product survive such a slur?
That's what 2008 headlines called phthalates,
the vinyl softeners used in many everyday
products - including toys. Barely spoken of in
the early 2000s, this became a hot issue for
the anti-chemical lobby. The controversy and
negative coverage had already led California to
announce a ban on phthalates. Opinions were
rapidly turning into facts. And for the American
Chemistry Council (ACC), time was running out.
Ogilvy's research into the situation revealed some illuminating insights. Americans, mired in war and buffeted by a financial crisis, felt powerless. Phthalates were a problem they could at least do something about.

The counter-campaign sought to become positive and proactive. Misinformation was quickly clarified, with third parties - such as the Food and Drug Administration - referred to for comment. Influential blogs were identified, and rebuttals to negative posts delivered within 24 hours. These communicated both the safety facts around phthalates, and referred readers to a specially-designed ACC website for more information.

A noticeable shift in the public mood was soon detected. Now, 83% of consumers do not strongly support a ban on the use of phthalates.