A scare over Crock-Pot fires is coming at an unfortunate moment for the product's owner, Newell Brands.
On a day when a grim forecast and strategy shift sent its stock plunging 24 percent, Newell is also dealing with a PR nightmare sparked by the latest episode of "This Is Us." A pivotal scene in the NBC drama suggested that a fire started by a faulty slow cooker killed a main character. Newell acquired Crock-Pot when it bought Jarden Corp. in 2016, and it's now looking to tamp down safety concerns among the show's viewers.
The consumer-products giant, which also owns Sharpie pens, Rubbermaid and Mr. Coffee, says the panic is nothing more than a tempest in a Crock-Pot.
"The safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible," Newell said in a statement Thursday. "Our Crock-Pot slow cookers are low-current, low-wattage (typically no more than 200 or 300 watts) appliances with self-regulating, heating elements."
We're ? over last night's episode, too! But don't worry, you can still make your favorite meals in your #CrockPot with confidence. We want to assure all consumers we rigorously test our products for safety. DM us & we'd be happy to tell you more about our safety standards.— The Crock-PotŪ Brand (@CrockPotCares) January 24, 2018
Even "This Is Us" creator Dan Fogelman sought to allay concerns. The scene depicted a used appliance that wasn't meant to reflect on current technology, he said.
"Taking a moment to remind everyone that it was a 20-year-old fictional crockpot with an already funky switch? Let's not just lump all those lovely hardworking crockpots together," Fogelman posted on Twitter.
As part of the shake-up announced Thursday, Newell is considering selling a suite of brands, including Rawlings and Rubbermaid Outdoors. Three board members also are leaving the Hoboken, New Jersey-based company. Crock-Pot isn't one of the product lines that Newell said it wants to sell off.
In addition to the bad publicity, Crock-Pot faces other problems. Multipurpose cookers like Instant Pot, which can pressure-cook and make rice and yogurt, are all the rage now. In October, Crock-Pot announced its own entry into the multicooker category.
Meanwhile, Newell is taking pains not to alienate fans of "This Is Us." TV-show enthusiasts can be fiercely loyal.
"We too, are heartbroken by the latest development in Jack's storyline," the company said.