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The Tylenol Crisis
In the fall of 1986 a Consumer Products company, was confronted with a crisis when seven
people died furtively. Authorities resolute that each of the people that died had ingested an
Extra-Strength Tylenol capsule laced with cyanide. The news of this incident traveled quickly
and was the cause of a massive, nationwide panic. These poisonings made it necessary for the
company to launch a public relations program immediately, in order to save the integrity of
both their product and their corporation as a whole.
The tainted Tylenol capsules were from four different manufacturing lots. Evidence suggests
that the pills were taken from different stores over a period of weeks or months. The bottles,
some of which had five or less cyanide laced capsules and one which had ten, were tampered
with and then placed back on the shelves of five different stores.
After this crisis, the company was faced with quite a dilemma. They needed to find the best
way to deal with the tampering, without destroying the reputation of their company and their
most profitable product, Tylenol. "I don't think they can ever sell another product under that
name," advertising genius Jerry Della Femina told the New York Times in the first days
following the crisis.
a) How this crisis can be turned into an opportunity for the organization? (Marks 7.5)
b) Suggest some ways to deal with or prevent uncertain conflicts constructively.
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