Recalls Plague the Tylenol Brand

Discussion
Oct 20, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

How much bad news can one brand’s reputation take, even
if that brand turns out to be one that millions of people have relied on for
years?

Johnson & Johnson
has been forced over the past year to recall 53 million bottles of Tylenol
and other over-the-counter medicines it manufactures due to musty or moldy
odors. Now, the company announced it was recalling another 128,000 bottles
of Tylenol for the same reason.

A Reuters report said the recalled product,
identified by a J&J
spokesperson as eight-hour caplets in the 50-count size, were manufactured
in March at the company’s McNeil Consumer Healthcare plant in Fort Washington,
PA. The company shut down the plant in April after inspectors with the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration found problems with its quality control procedures.

J&J
said the voluntary recall was “taken as a precaution and the risk
of adverse medical events is remote.” The company said the musty odor
was “thought
to be caused by the presence of trace amounts of a chemical called  2,4,6-tribromoanisole” found
in wood pallets used to transport and store packing materials.

Discussion Question: Do you think the Tylenol brand been permanently damaged
as a result of a series of recalls over the past year? Has the company acted
aggressively enough to remove all potential problem products from the supply
chain?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "Recalls Plague the Tylenol Brand"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Dick Seesel
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

Tylenol dealt with the “mother of all recalls” in 1982, and has become a textbook example of how to manage a crisis related to product safety in order to salvage a successful brand. However, the current problems are harder to manage–like death from a thousand paper cuts.

The safety of Tylenol products may not be at issue, but the quality of a trusted brand certainly is–especially given the wide availability of generic equivalents. Tylenol (and J&J) needs to solve the technical problems underlying these recalls as quickly as possible, and it may need to do more “damage control” brand-image promotion and marketing. It may be a costly process to rebuild trial and trust.

Ben Ball
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I have heard reference to — though not seen personally — consumer research showing that the brand is still well respected, at least before this latest episode. But work we have done in the OTC category would suggest that retailers are not cutting the brand the same slack.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 6 months ago

You can’t commit the same mistake twice and get away with it particularly when ALEVE can perform faster with two pills.

J&J is a great company. Now it’s time to shape up and sweep house.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

J&J will work through this; but they need to be sure this time they have ” cleaned up their act.” The public has a way of forgiving and forgetting; but that will only last so long. There will not be a third time; and there could be a spillover to other J&J products if they are not careful. They have to satisfy the retailers and general public that this has been resolved. You might think if it truly was a pallet issue the QC people would have detected the odor before shipping.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

J&J used to be the gold standard of corporate behavior. Unfortunately, they have now joined the balance of their industry in adoring the bottom line at the risk of the people using their products. At this point there is no proof that the company is serious about returning to its prior standards. This isn’t a supply chain problem, this is a philosophy problem.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 6 months ago

It would be interesting to take a poll of the average consumer to see how many are even aware of the recall! Tylenol has survived other recalls before. They will continue to build the brand and will responsibly handle the recall.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
10 years 6 months ago

In the long run, I’m sure this will be but a glitch for J&J and Tylenol. But, with the active ingredients for many branded HBC products being 100% identical to their private label counterparts, what exactly distinguishes the branded item other than brand name and reputation? They are certainly in a danger zone here.

Warren Love
Guest
Warren Love
10 years 6 months ago

As mentioned above, it’s been over 15 years since J&J and consumers were the target of a recall that was not something to do with J&J quality control. This time it is, however. J&J is doing the right thing – again. Will consumers trust a brand backed by a company that is consistently ethical and looks out for consumer safety first over short term profits? I believe so. Let the promotional games begin.

Brian Kelly
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I agree with Al that brand Tylenol is in the danger zone. Repeated recalls did not help brand Detroit.

Although I do wonder the impact of “recalls” upon the consumer perception of brands now that they seem routine. With the growth of private label, these incidents do provide another reason for the consumer to switch to the generic acetaminophen.

On the flip side, J&J’s marketing communication work is noteworthy as the brand has not imploded.

Phillip T. Straniero
Guest
Phillip T. Straniero
10 years 6 months ago

I think J&J is one of the premier brand names in the U.S. in terms of heritage and quality image.

As such, if they handle the Tylenol situation in an open and transparent manner as they did many years ago, then I think they will be able to salvage, repair, and restore the brand.

The biggest issue in my mind will be the amount of time they are off the shelf as a lengthy absence will play into the hands of major competitors and large retailer own brands.

The longer the brand is unavailable to the consumer, the tougher it will be to regain market share and sales.

John Owen
Guest
John Owen
10 years 6 months ago

Actually it’s more like 25 years since the last major Tylenol recall event. And I agree that somewhere deep in the J&J culture and Tylenol brand equity (which the response to the ’80s tamperings helped to define) there is the strength and will to make a comeback. But it’s going to be tougher this time. To start with, as noted above, this time it’s a self-inflicted wound, a breach the consumer’s trust when trust is the main thing that sets the brand apart.

And on a practical level, the competition is a lot tougher today. Private label is in a far stronger position and was gaining even before the recall. The branded alternatives are stronger as well. Back then it was primarily aspirin, against which Tylenol had a compelling story.

It’s true that consumers may be only dimly aware of Tylenol’s problems. But the longer it stays off the shelves the more consumers will discover that the alternatives are just as good…or better…or less expensive. What’s the motivation to go back?

Michael Simmons
Guest
Michael Simmons
10 years 6 months ago

While the Tylenol brand may come back, the sales may not. With the absence of Tylenol on the shelf, consumers turned to store brand equivalents. It will be hard to get those consumers back when they find the store brand is just as effective at half the price.

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much damage has been done to the brand equity of Tylenol as a result of recalls in the past year?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...