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Analysis Case Study: The Johnson & Johnson Tylenol Crisis

Essay by   •  August 20, 2011  •  Case Study  •  473 Words (2 Pages)  •  3,251 Views

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Remember when your mother used to give you Tylenol curing virtually any ill from a headache to the common cold? Well, the spectacular drug still exists today for two reasons. First, Tylenol is a great product. Second, Tylenol and its parent company Johnson & Johnson have successfully managed two separate public relations crises.

In 1982, seven people died in the Chicago area from consuming poisoned Tylenol. Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol's parent company, reacted quickly maintaining open and honest communication with the public throughout the investigation into the alleged poisoned pills. Johnson & Johnson immediately pulled Tylenol off the shelves in the area and looked into what could have gone wrong. At the same time, Johnson & Johnson immediately created television advertisements and aired them within days to assist in communication with the public. While Johnson & Johnson maintained its innocence, their actions spoke to their character. After the incident occurred, Tylenol sales dropped by a third. However, within months, the product's sales had reached the level they were at before the crisis took place.

Again, in 1986, a woman in Yonkers died from consuming a Tylenol capsule laced with cyanide. Johnson & Johnson reacted as it did in the previous incident. The company pulled all Tylenol capsules from the shelves and initiated an investigation claiming, once again, that they were innocent. Five months after the poisioning Tylenol is selling 96% of what it sold before the incident. Effective management of the public relations crises allowed Tylenol to survive the two poisioning incidents.

Johnson & Johnson did exactly what they should have done to manage the crisis situations. They employed the fundamental requirements of a successful crisis public relations campaign. The way a crisis is managed will determine the future of the company.

Tylenol communicated openly and often with the public. Additionally, communication was not simply through the press. Tylenol went above and beyond spending advertising money to create advertisements that would communicate the company's message to the public. Communicating often and openly with the public is one of the foundations of a great crisis public relations camapaign.

Tylenol's actions created support for the company. There's the old saying "actions speak louder than words". Tylenol acted quickly, pulling the capsules from the shelves immediately after learning about the incidents. There action showed the public that Tylenol was willing to lose millions in potential sales in order to ensure the safety of its customers. The public had a favorable image of the company and felt safe returning to the product after the incident because the public knew that Johnson & Johnson put the safety of their customers ahead of everything else.

The Tylenol



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