Case Study: How Strategic Crisis Management Can Save Your Brand

tylenol

Good brands are not immune to disasters, and disasters have the capability of ruining relationships you have spent time and money on building with your customers (such is the case with Jian Ghomeshi’s personal brand right now!).

Although there have been many large brands that have suffered brand crisis’s, I wanted to highlight Maple Leaf Foods and Johnson & Johnson’s because I particularly liked the way they handled themselves in brand crisis’s that had the potential to seriously damage their businesses.

The two case study’s below underscore the need for having a successful brand management strategy in place to help you navigate your brand out of whatever sticky situation you may be in.

Maple Leaf Foods

On August 23, 2008 a Toronto Maple Leaf Foods plant was involved in the outbreak of the food-borne illness, Listeria, caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. One day later, Maple Leaf recalled 23 of its products that were distributed the previous week, and the company estimated the recall would cost it at least $20 million.

So what did Michael McCain, the CEO of Maple Leaf Foods, do to help repair what brand damage had been done? He held press conferences and posted a public apology on the company’s website. Another spokeswoman from Maple Leaf Foods hosted interviews with a wide range of media, and they ran TV spots and advertisements in newspapers. Their strategic approach reassured customers that the risk was gone, and that they could feel confident in Maple Leaf Foods once again.

Johnson & Johnson

In Chicago in 1982, the leading painkiller medication in the United States at the time faced a horrible crisis when seven people died after taking extra-strength Tylenol that had been laced with Cyanide. Bottles of Tylenol were tampered with and once the connection was made between Tylenol and the reported deaths, public announcements were made to warn people about consuming the product. As a result, it’s market share decreased.

Pretty bad, right? Well, it could have ruined their business, but Johnson & Johnson was quick to respond and immediately removed the product from shelves across the US, which accounted for about 31 million bottles, and a loss of more than $100 million. They also stopped all advertising for the product. After, they reintroduced their product to the market with a three-way, tamper-proof bottle. They offered customers a $2.50 coupon on the purchase of their products, and over 2250 sales people made presentations for the medical community to restore confidence that had been lost. Within a year, they had regained their market share.

What’s your brand crisis management strategy? How important do you think having a strategy in place is? To be a tad controversial and push the limits: Do you think there is anything Jian Ghomeshi can do to repair his personal brand? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and insights in the comment section below.

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