In 1982, Johnson and Johnson was charged with infected Tylenol capsules which had resulted in several deaths in the U.S. After medical examination itwas discovered that several capsules were infused with the chemical cyanide, an amount which was 10,000 times more than that required for human death. The capsules had been tampered with, once they reached the stores since the capsules were designed such that they could be easily tampered with. This represents one of the most serious ethical cases in history of pharmaceutical industry. Immediately upon discovering the contaminate capsules, Tylenol promptly informed the consumers to immediately stop consuming the medicine. Tylenol had been the most profitable medicine for Johnson amp. Johnson and its contamination represented a big threat to the company and its goodwill in the market. The company’s market share fell drastically from 35% to a mere 8%. Thus, the company’s aim was to react in a way that does not damage its reputation. Following the announcement to stop consumption of the product was the announcement that the company had recalled its product completely from the market which resulted in an immediate loss of $100 million (Suder, 2006). The important point to note here is that, although the company wasn’t responsible for the alteration in the product, it assumed the ethical responsibility at the cost of its profits. By demonstrating that the company genuinely cared for the soceity’s safety, Tylenol got sympathy vote from customers who started realizing the fact that Tylenol had been a victim of a criminal act ( done by somebody else) and that the company was innocent (Suder, 2006). Additionally, the company established repute and strong links with the FBI, Police and the administration of the Food and Drug department (Kaplan, 1994). Through this the company hoped to gain the confidence of these groups along with searching for the individuals behind the contamination. Furthermore, it devoted heavy sums of money to the media and advertising agencies in order to inform the public about stopping the use of Tylenol and spreading this awareness amongst the masses (Kaplan, 1994). They went to the extent of using 1-800 hotline to deliver the message across the country and also used pre-recorded messages to inform news agencies about the latest developments with respect to the crisis (Cutlip, Center, amp. Broom, 1999). The company also ensured that all its press conferences were aired on national television (Kaplan, 1994). This was, however, a short term solution. In the longer run the company attempted to move away from the capsule design and move to a triple sealing to avert incidents of contamination in future (Suder, 2006). Furthermore, a foil seal at the cap of the bottle was introduced (Suder, 2006). The company won the hearts of customers and the media by becoming the first company within the nation to have resorted to the new tamper-free packaging within a span of 6 months from the time of the crisis (Suder, 2006). Through this, the company, not surprisingly, received positive media coverage regarding the way it handled the issue with the effect that consumer confidence in the product was soon restored and the product was re-introduced in the market which resulted in sales being restored to the level before the crisis. The case of Tylenol has set a standard for crisis management in its industry and has been used by researchers as a reference point when discussing about efficient and effective crisis management strategies. The company dealt very effectively with what was termed terrorism according to various researchers. The company used the strategy of forgiveness by seeking the soft corner of public’s hearts and winning their hearts eventually. It also revealed the fact that the company’s PR and media relations strategy had been quite confined and weak in the pre-crisis period. Thus, the Tylenol crisis revealed deeper than surface-level weaknesses of the company and also demonstrated the company’s strength at dealing with crisis situations. References:Cutlip, S. M., Center, A. H., amp. Broom, G. M. (1999). Effective Public Relations. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.Kaplan, T. (1994). The Tylenol Crisis: How Effective Public Relations Saved Johnson amp. Johnson. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University.Suder, G. G. (2006). Corporate strategies under international terrorism and adversity . Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Tylenol Ethical Behavior 1982