Tylenol Murders of 1982

2011 Words9 Pages

Johnson & Johnson:
The Tylenol Crisis of 1982

Since 1887 Johnson and Johnson had been a respected member of the health care industry providing millions of customers with a diverse line of products from surgical dressings and band aids to baby powder. It had built its reputation on providing surgeons with sterile dressing to use after surgery because infection was a major cause of death after surgical procedures. The company was also a pioneer in the corporate idea of decentralizing the structure of their business so each set of products were directed by their own subsidiary and each had autonomy from the main corporate center. A family run, publicly
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A week after the poisonings, Tylenol’s market share fell from 34 percent to 4 percent (Marketing Fact Book, n.d., as cited in Raeburn, 1982). Sales were sharply declining. Although the company had emergency plans for incidents such as plant fires, Johnson and Johnson had no specific crisis communication plan. Nothing like this had ever happened to Johnson and Johnson or any other company. Johnson and Johnson would need to react quickly in order to preserve the company’s reputation and maintain Tylenol’s market share. This paper will show how Johnson and Johnson responded to the tampering crisis and what other companies can learn from their actions. The public relations decisions made as a result of the Tylenol crisis arrived in two phases. The first phase was the actual handling of the crisis. Once it was determined that the seven deaths in the Chicago area were caused by Extra Strength Tylenol capsules, Johnson & Johnson used both public relations and advertising to communicate their strategy to their customers and the medical community. Rather than waiting for more evidence of contamination, Johnson and Johnson immediately sought to remove all causes of potential harm to its number one priority – the users of their products (Baker, n.d.). Johnson and Johnson’s CEO, James Burke, remained in constant contact with the public through the channels of the news media. Johnson and Johnson executives appeared on television shows “60
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