Not Quite the Tylenol Team

This article from the NY Times shows just how much things have changed since the Tylenol incident from the 80s. I don’t have all the facts, but when I read things like this:

A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, Mark Wolfe, said: “We disagree with the outcome of this trial. We are evaluating our legal options.”

it makes me realize that this isn’t the same team that worked on the crises from yesteryear. Before Crisis PR, before worlds of spin, and flacks doing damage control, Johnson and Johnson relied on their creed to help them weather a horrific tragedy. Now, things seem different, more litigious, less consumer friendly.

Johnson & Johnson’s lawyers contend that Ms. Thompson did not die of a fentanyl overdose and that there was no evidence her patch leaked. They attributed her death to “natural causes,” like heart problems.

I’m interested in seeing how this all pans out. Will this turn out to be a case of a company protecting itself from lawyers, doctors, and ignorant consumers – or – will this turn out to be a rather large blotch on the Johnson and Johnson name?

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2 Responses

  1. In a crisis, pr rule of thumb is to own up and admit the mistake if one is made. Afterall, we are a forgiving sociaty. But maybe J&J feels it has no responsibility in this.

    Perhaps words should be chosen more carefully, but J&J has the brand equity to throw around. If the product isn’t to blame, they don’t have to act like it is. Some more sympathy is probably in order, however.

  2. I agree. Don’t admit guilt if you don’t think you’re at fault. Admit guilt if you know you’re at fault. Express sympathy and compassion regardless.

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