PR industry has an important role to play in helping companies identify
and manage risks that could damage their reputation." Nick
Purdom of PR Week
THE TYLENOL CRISIS, 1982
occurred once the product reached the shelves. They were removed from
the shelves, infected with cyanide and returned to the shelves (Mitchell,
1989). In 1982, Tylenol controlled 37 percent of its market with revenue
of about $1.2 million. Immediately after the cyanide poisonings, its market
share was reduced to seven percent (Mitchell 1989).
What did Johnson & Johnson do?
Once the connection was made between the Tylenol capsules and the reported deaths, public announcements were made warning people about the consumption of the product. Johnson & Johnson was faced with the dilemma of the best way to deal with the problem without destroying the reputation of the company and its most profitable product.
Following one of our guidelines of protecting people first and property second, McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, conducted an immediate product recall from the entire country which amounted to about 31 million bottles and a loss of more than $100 million dollars. (Lazare, Chicago Sun-Times 2002) Additionally, they halted all advertisement for the product.
Johnson & Johnson knew they were not responsible for the tampering
of the product, they assumed responsibility by ensuring public safety
first and recalled all of their capsules from the market. In fact, in
February of 1986, when a woman was reported dead from cyanide poisoning
in Tylenol capsules, Johnson & Johnson permanently removed all of
the capsules from the market.
How did Johnson & Johnson re-introduce the product to the market?
Once the product was removed from the market, Johnson & Johnson had to come up with a campaign to re-introduce its product and restore confidence back to the consumer.
What was Tylenol's basis for its crisis management program?
Tylenol reacted so quickly and in such a positive manner to the crisis
stems from the company’s mission statement. (Lazare Chicago Sun-Times
2002). On the company’s credo
written in the mid-1940’s by Robert Wood Johnson, he stated that
the company‘s responsibilities were to the consumers and medical
professionals using its products, employees, the communities where its
people work and live, and its stockholders. Therefore, it was essential
to maintain the safety of its publics to maintain the company alive. Johnson
& Johnson’s responsibility to its publics first proved to be
its most efficient public relations tool. It was the key to the brand’s