Tylenol Crisis

Topics: Chicago, Chicago metropolitan area, Illinois Pages: 5 (1725 words) Published: October 21, 2012
Part 1: Crisis Scenario Development
Develop a scenario describing a crisis situation. Possible topics for your scenario include school violence, workplace violence, terrorist attack, sexual assault, or natural disasters. Your scenario must include sufficient breadth and depth in terms of the details surrounding the incident you have chosen, to include: • Description of the crisis.

• Description of the amount of damage.
• Description of the victims (physical and psychological damage). • Information about the perpetrator(s).

Project 1 Part 1
In October of 1982, Tylenol, the leading pain-killer medicine in the United States at the time, faced a tremendous crisis when seven people in Chicago were reported dead after taking extra-strength Tylenol capsules. It was reported that an unknown suspect put 65 milligrams of deadly cyanide into Tylenol capsules, 10,000 more than what is necessary to kill a human. The tampering occurred once the product reached the shelves. They were removed from the shelves, infected with cyanide and returned to the shelves (Mitchell, 1989). In 1982, Tylenol controlled 37 percent of its market with revenue of about $1.2 million. Immediately after the cyanide poisonings, its market share was reduced to seven percent (Mitchell 1989).

Once the connection was made between the Tylenol capsules and the reported deaths, public announcements were made warning people about the consumption of the product. Johnson & Johnson was faced with the dilemma of the best way to deal with the problem without destroying the reputation of the company and its most profitable product. Following one of their guidelines of protecting people first and property second, McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, conducted an immediate product recall from the entire country which amounted to about 31 million bottles and a loss of more than $100 million dollars. (Lazare, Chicago Sun-Times 2002) Additionally, they halted all advertisement for the product. Although Johnson & Johnson knew they were not responsible for the tampering of the product, they assumed responsibility by ensuring public safety first and recalled all of their capsules from the market. In fact, in February of 1986, when a woman was reported dead from cyanide poisoning in Tylenol capsules, Johnson & Johnson permanently removed all of the capsules from the market. The reason Tylenol reacted so quickly and in such a positive manner to the crisis stems from the company’s mission statement. (Lazare Chicago Sun-Times 2002). On the company’s credo written in the mid-1940’s by Robert Wood Johnson, he stated that the company‘s responsibilities were to the consumers and medical professionals using its products, employees, the communities where its people work and live, and its stockholders. Therefore, it was essential to maintain the safety of its publics to maintain the company alive. Johnson & Johnson’s responsibility to its publics first proved to be its most efficient public relations tool. It was the key to the brand’s survival. On September 29, 1982, 12-year-old Mary Kellerman of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, woke up at dawn and went into her parents’ bedroom. She did not feel well and complained of having a sore throat and a runny nose. To ease her discomfort, her parents gave her one Extra-Strength Tylenol capsule. At 7 a.m. they found Mary on the bathroom floor. She was immediately taken to the hospital where she was later pronounced dead. Doctors initially suspected that Mary died from a stroke, but evidence later pointed to a more sinister diagnosis. That same day, paramedics were called to the Arlington Heights home of 27-year-old postal worker Adam Janus. When they arrived, they found him lying on the floor. His breathing was labored, his blood pressure was dangerously low and his pupils were fixed and dilated. The paramedics rushed Adam Janus to the emergency room at Northwest Community Hospital,...

References: (n.d.). Retrieved August 31, 2012, from http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/terrorists_spies/terrorists/tylenol_murders/index.html
(n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2012, from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall02/susi/tylenol.htm
(n.d.). Retrieved August 29, 2012, from http://aboutpublicrelations.net/uczoulas1.htm
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