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Johnson And Johnson Writing Sample

Johnson And Johnson Writing Sample

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Elise Marie Trent

ETrent@syr.edu • 703.927.8109 • 417 Comstock Avenue #208 Syracuse, NY 13210 • @EliseMarieTrent • www.EliseMarieTrent.com

Personal Writing Sample: Reputation Management: A Comparison of the 1982 and 2010 Tylenol Recalls by Johnson & Johnson For the second year in a row, PR Newswire (2010) reported Johnson & Johnson secured the number one spot as the “most reputable U.S. company.” This is a considerable achievement as “reputation was, is, and always will be of immense importance to organizations” (Watson, 2010, p. 339). Although Johnson & Johnson has been previously ranked as having a positive company reputation, Brønn (2010) explained, “a reputation is not a result of packaging, catchy slogans, or clever communication campaigns. An organization’s reputation rests on every single thing it does” (p. 318). In the past year, Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly deviated from its traditionally strong and responsible crisis management protocol with potentially damaging repercussions for the company’s reputation. Johnson & Johnson’s most recent product recall occurred on October 18, 2010. The company issued a product recall for approximately 128,000 units of Tylenol 8 Hour 50 caplet count bottles due to a reported strange, musty odor (Singer, 2010; Tylenol, 2010). The 2,4,6-tribromoanisole, also known as TBA, is believed to have “leached into product packaging by wooden storage palates” (DeNoon & Martin, 2010). In conjunction with this recall, “more than 150 million units of Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, and Zyrtec for adults, infants and children” have been recalled across at least six incidents in the previous 12 months (DeNoon & Martin, 2010; Singer, 2010). Through a company press release, McNeil Consumer Health informed affected publics “the uncharacteristic odor is thought to be caused by the presence of trace amounts of a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole. This voluntary action is being taken as a precaution and the risk of adverse medical events is remote. To date, observed events reported to McNeil for this lot were temporary and non-serious” (Tylenol, 2010). Johnson & Johnson has temporarily closed the Fort Washington, PA plant that produced the recently recalled batch of Tylenol 8 Hour for “upgrades” (Singer, 2010).

Elise Marie Trent
ETrent@syr.edu • 703.927.8109 • 417 Comstock Avenue #208 Syracuse, NY 13210 • @EliseMarieTrent • www.EliseMarieTrent.com

Although the October 18, 2010 press release argues the recall is a precautionary measure, this specific Tylenol 8 Hour lot is not McNeil’s first encounter with a musty odor believed to be the result of TBA contamination. The company has issued product recalls in November 2009, December 2009, January 2010, June 2010 and July 2010 due to a strange odor believe to be the result of TBA; Johnson & Johnson is currently facing a United States congressional probe regarding the repeated recalls (DeNoon & Martin, 2010; Pierson, 2010). Johnson & Johnson CEO William Weldon, in a November interview with New Jersey’s Star Ledger, explained, “we can say, clearly, this was an isolated situation the evolved and needed to be addressed. And we’re addressing it” (Todd, 2010). However, six recalls related to TBA contamination over the span of a year indicates this is an on-going problem, not an “isolated situation.” In an effort to restore consumer faith surrounding the quality of Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson will be conducting several marketing campaigns (Todd, 2010). CEO William Weldon stated the campaigns would be targeted at consumers and physicians, however, he did not elaborate on the content of the marketing campaigns in his Star-Ledger interview (Todd, 2010). As a personal recommendation, I would encourage CEO William Weldon to not only address traditional media like the Star-Ledger but to speak to consumers through newer mediums. One suggestion would be to film a video statement that can be posted to the company website and shared on social media platforms. A second avenue would be for the company to create a micro site, attached to the corporate website, pertaining to the recall and update consumers regularly through blog posts, video statements, and tweets. Although Johnson & Johnson has been lauded “as an industry gold standard in crisis management” for it response to the 1982 cyanide-tampering of extra-strength Tylenol, the company has recently come under scrutiny for its crisis management response (Morris, 2009). FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has been openly disapproving of Johnson & Johnson’s recent behavior, stating “many people have noted that way back

Elise Marie Trent
ETrent@syr.edu • 703.927.8109 • 417 Comstock Avenue #208 Syracuse, NY 13210 • @EliseMarieTrent • www.EliseMarieTrent.com

when, J&J was a model for responding to public health concerns and providing information to the public in a timely and open way, and their behavior of late has been somewhat different” (Pierson, 2010). The FDA Commissioner also criticized Johnson & Johnson’s 2009 attempted “silent recall” in which the company hired private contractors to purchase potentially contaminated Motrin from a variety of convenience stores and groceries (Pierson, 2010). As product recalls related to TBA continue to haunt Johnson & Johnson, the company’s bottom like has taken a major hit; Johnson & Johnson’s over-the-counter medicine sales in the United States dropped 40 percent in the company’s third quarter of 2010 (Johnson, 2010). The company attributed its decreased sales to the temporarily suspended production at the Pennsylvania plant (Todd, 2010). In 1982, when seven people died from ingesting contaminated Tylenol pills, Johnson & Johnson took a drastic approach to reduce the possibility of further deaths (The University of Oklahoma, n.d.). “By withdrawing all Tylenol, even though there was little chance of discovering more cyanide-laced tablets, Johnson & Johnson showed that they are not willing to take a risk with the public’s safety, even if it cost the company millions of dollars” (The University of Oklahoma, n.d.). This response positioned Johnson & Johnson as a victim in the eyes of public as oppose to being viewed as an irresponsible manufacturer that did not take proper safety precautions to protect consumers (The University of Oklahoma, n.d.). Johnson & Johnson responded to the crisis by forming a seven-member strategy team, alerting consumers about the incident, informing consumers not to consume any Tylenol products, pausing all production of Tylenol and stopping advertisement for Tylenol products (The University of Oklahoma, n.d.). Johnson & Johnson went so far as to establish two hotlines, one for consumers and one for media, in order to keep communication lines open (The University of Oklahoma, n.d.). The company also developed a triple layer safety seal; the new tamper-resistant packaging was on shelves approximately six months after the cyanide-poisoning crisis (The University of Oklahoma, n.d.) “The best regarded organizations manage their

Elise Marie Trent
ETrent@syr.edu • 703.927.8109 • 417 Comstock Avenue #208 Syracuse, NY 13210 • @EliseMarieTrent • www.EliseMarieTrent.com

communication so that they express themselves consistently and coherently, that is, they are consistent in both words and deeds;” in this instance, Johnson & Johnson communicated responsibility for its product quality and the well-being of its consumers by taking swift action to prevent further deaths from Tylenol (Brønn, 2010, p. 314). Despite the comprehensive crisis management response from Johnson & Johnson, Tylenol’s market share dropped form 37 percent to 7 percent immediately following the poisoning (The University of Florida, n.d.). The recalled product alone cost Johnson & Johnson over $100 million, however, due to the aforementioned crisis response the Tylenol and Johnson & Johnson brands were able to recover as both continue to be successful, profitable brands in the United States (The University of Florida, n.d.). “Sandstrom (2006) made the point that it would be surprising to find an organization with a strong corporate brand that did not have a good reputation,” thus implying that strong corporate brand and good reputation come handin-hand (Brønn, 2010, p. 311). Twenty years later, Johnson & Johnson’s response to the 1982 poisoning is still viewed as the “textbook example of how to deal with a corporate PR crisis” (Lazare, 2002). While the company handled the 1982 poisoning in an excellent, transparent manner, that outstanding response created a very high level of expectation for future crisis in the eyes of the public. The future marketing campaigns, temporary plant closure, and meager number of press releases and interviews pale in comparison to the outstanding efforts taken by Johnson & Johnson in 1982 to forcibly prohibit future tampering with their products. “L.A. Grunig, Grunig and Dozier (2002) suggested . . . that quality of relationships and reputations result more from the behavior of the organization than from messages disseminate,” implying Johnson & Johnson’s may have a stronger impact on consumers by upgrading plants across the board than through an advertisement campaign. Although there is a clear difference between cyanide poisoning and the minor ailments reported from TBA contamination, Johnson & Johnsons’ communication with affected publics differed drastically in

Elise Marie Trent
ETrent@syr.edu • 703.927.8109 • 417 Comstock Avenue #208 Syracuse, NY 13210 • @EliseMarieTrent • www.EliseMarieTrent.com

1982 and 2010 (DeNoon & Martin, 2010). In both cases, Johnson & Johnson endured a heavy financial toll by recalling all Tylenol in 1982 and by stopping production at the contaminated plant in 2010. However, in 1982, the contamination was the result of an unknown assailant and the 2009-2010 pesticide contaminations were a result of Johnson & Johnson plant procedures, which can be directly attributed to the company. Because of the current higher level of responsibility for the problem at hand, I believe Johnson & Johnson should undertake an even more aggressive communication campaign to speak with consumers about what’s being done to resolve the contaminations at the plant and how this problem will be eliminated in the future. Reaching out to consumers on social media does open the avenue for individual consumers to voice their concerns over Tylenol, but it more importantly opens the avenue for Johnson & Johnson to communicate with concerned individuals as a way to rehabilitate their reputation. If Johnson & Johnson does not strategically use social media to respond to this crisis, consumers will be on the web talking about the crisis without them. Johnson & Johnson aggressively managed the 1982 crisis, setting high standards for the company to meet during future crises. The company has not met those standards in the 2009-2010 TBA contamination crises. Due to the blatant decrease in communication, transparency, and management between 1982 Tylenol recall and the 2009-2010 recalls, Johnson & Johnson may have irreversibly damaged its relationship with consumers; Ultimately, “better regarded companies . . . not only do things right - they do the right things” (Fombrun, 1996, p. 8). Because the October 18th recall is the sixth such recall in a string of pesticide-related contaminations and Johnson & Johnson has responded with limited public communication, the company does not appear to be doing the “right thing” to manage this crisis or its reputation.

Elise Marie Trent
ETrent@syr.edu • 703.927.8109 • 417 Comstock Avenue #208 Syracuse, NY 13210 • @EliseMarieTrent • www.EliseMarieTrent.com

References: Brønn, P. (2010). Reputation, communication, and the corporate brand. In R.L. Heath (Ed.), The Sage handbook of public relations (307-320). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications DeNoon, D. J., & Martin, L. (2010, October 19). Tylenol recalled. . .again: Musty odor spurs another recall of J&J/McNeil product. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from WebMD website: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20101019/tylenol-recalled-again Fombrun, C. J. (1996). Reputation: Realizing value from the corporate image. In Watson, T. (2010). Reputation models, drivers, and measurement. In R.L. Heath (Ed.), The Sage handbook of public relations (pp. 339-351). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Grunig, L. A., Grunig, J. E., & Dozier, D. M. (2002) Excellent public relations and effective organizations: A study of communication management in three countries. In Brønn, P. (2010). Reputation, communication, and the corporate brand. In R.L. Heath (Ed.), The Sage handbook of public relations (307-320). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Johnson, L. (2010), October 19). J&J sales of OTC products fall 40 pct in 3Q. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://www.wtop.com/?nid=106&sid=2084500 Lazare, L. (2002, September 29). Crisis triggered brilliant PR response. Chicago Sun-Times, p. 19. Morris, E. (2009, December 31). Tylenol expands recall on arthritis drug. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from http://www.prweekus.com/tylenold-expands-recall-on-arthritis drug/article/160426/ Pierson, R. (2010, November 9). FDA chief criticizes J&J secret Motrin recall. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE6A85EK20101109 PR Newswire. (2010, April 20). Johnson & Johnson ranks as most reputable U.S. company in Reputation Institute’s 2010 Reputation Pulse Study; AIG ranks last. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http:// www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/johnson--johnson-ranks-as-most-reputable-us-company-inreputation-institutes-2010-reputation-pulse-study-aig-ranks-last-91589399.html Sandstrom, L. (2006). Corporate branding: Et vertøj til stratgizk kommunikation. In Brønn, P. (2010). Reputation, communication, and the corporate brand. In R.L. Heath (Ed.), The Sage handbook of public relations (307-320). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Singer, N. (2010, October 18). More trouble with Tylenol [Web log post]. Retrieved from Prescriptions: http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/18/more-trouble-with tylenol/?scp=1&sq=tylenol%20recall&st=cse The University of Oklahoma. (n.d.). Case study: The Johnson & Johnson Tylenol crisis. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://www.ou.edu/deptcomm/dodjcc/groups/02C2/Johnson%20&Johnson.htm

Elise Marie Trent
ETrent@syr.edu • 703.927.8109 • 417 Comstock Avenue #208 Syracuse, NY 13210 • @EliseMarieTrent • www.EliseMarieTrent.com

The University of Florida. (n.d.). The Tylenol crisis, 1982. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://iml.jou. ufl.edu/projects/Fall02/Susi/tylenol.htm Todd, S. (2010, November 07). Johnson & Johnson’s CEO looks ahead in wake of highly publicized drug recalls. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2010/11/ johnsonjohnsons_ceo_looks_ahea.html Tse, A. (2010, January 22). Has Johnson & Johnson’s reputation been damaged?. Retrieved November 16, 2010, from http://www.thestreet.com/story/10663627/has-johnson-johnsons-reputation-beendamaged.html Tylenol. (2010, October 18). McNeil Consumer Healthcare announces voluntary recall of one product lot of Tylenol 8 Hour caplets 50 count sold in the United States and Puerto Rico [Press release]. Retrieved November 10, 2010, from http://www.tylenol.com/page2.jhtml?id=tylenol/news/ subp_tylenol_recall_4.inc Watson, T. (2010). Reputation models, drivers, and measurement. In R.L. Heath (Ed.), The Sage handbook of public relations (pp. 339-351). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

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