For a brand, recovering its reputation after a crisis can be a complicated business. The speed with which it recovers depends on a number of factors, including: the brand's reputation before the crisis hit (did it have a lot of goodwill in the bank?); was the crisis preventable by the businesses; and if the business demonstrates that it has learned from the experience.
Johnson & Johnson -- Tylenol recall -- 1982
Back in 1982, Johnson & Johnson found itself in the center of a major crisis. Seven people died suddenly in and around Chicago. The only link between the deaths was that they had all taken a Tylenol pill a few hours before they died.
Once authorities tested the bottles, they discovered high levels of potassium cyanide in the pills. The eight bottles affected came from different factories and stores.
As well as issuing warning notices to distributors and medical professionals, Johnson & Johnson initiated a nationwide recall of Tylenol products (31 million bottles, costing the firm $125 million), set up a hotline, and inspected its factories to double check that the problem hadn't originated there.
Investigators concluded that the bottles must have been refilled with the cyanide pills and returned to store shelves by someone going store to store. Johnson & Johnson worked with the FBI , Chicago police, and the FDA to try and find the killer, offering a $100,000 reward. The crime remains unsolved.
When Johnson & Johnson put Tylenol back on sale, it was with tamper-proof packaging (and coupons for $2.50 off). People were understandably nervous about buying consumer products after the Tylenol case, and in 1983 Congress approved a bill that made malicious tampering of consumer products a federal offence.
Johnson & Johnson handled the crisis well. It moved quickly, cooperated with investigators, provided good information, and issued a full recall rather put other people at risk.