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January 17, 2011#

J&J Product Recalls Damage Corporate Brand

How damaged is J&J’s reputation as a result of the recent multi-product recalls?

The company is limping, but we see no reason why it can’t turn things around.

Of course, J&J wrote the book on product crisis management. Yet the company seems to have forgotten everything it learned when it earned high praise from consumers and industry pundits alike following the original Tylenol recall in 1982.

Recently, J&J has recalled “288 million items, including about 136 million bottles of liguid Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl for infants and children,” according to a recent report in the New York Times.   The causes:  quality control problems.

Up to this point, J&J has been able to lay low, and hide in the shadow of other, bigger corporate crises, namely, BP and Toyota.

But with a growing number of negative news reports and surging consumer disenfranchisement expressed on-line, it’s time for J&J to step forward and take center stage.

As a first step, J&J needs to dust off its brand credo which has successful guided the company to being one of the most trusted in the world.

Next it needs to fix the product problems–fast–and to physically communicate its safeguards in the form of tangible proof (once again taking a page from the original Tylenol recall when they invented the safety cap).

Simultaneously, it needs to start talking publicly, broadly and repeatedly, to reestablish its historically well-earned reputation for transparency, by honestly explaining what went wrong, what the company is doing to fix the problems, how and when.   They could actually learn a thing or two from BP and Toyota on this.

J&J can fix this.  It’s time to step forward into the spot light.