business

Crock-Pot Owner Defends Product After ‘This Is Us’ PR Nightmare

A Crock-Pot cooking appliance. 

Photographer:  Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A scare over Crock-Pot fires is coming at an unfortunate moment for the product’s owner, Newell Brands Inc.

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.”

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.

Read more: Newell drops as Sharpie owner eyes breakup of brand empire

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.

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