"You do not mess with two things: puppies and babies."
If there is anything our professors have told us several times when it comes to crisis management, those two subjects are key.
The day after discussing stakeholders and publics in planning public relations programs, I stumbled upon an article in the Toronto Star about carcinogens in baby shampoo.
More specifically, how Johnson & Johnson has found itself in the middle of a crisis over its No More Tears baby shampoo.
This last week, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published a piece called Baby's Tub is Still Toxic, calling on Johnson & Johnson for having double standards when it comes to the production and distribution of baby shampoo with known carcinogens across the globe.
Johnson & Johnson had been aware of the issue raised by their publics for two years. The company has been slowly phasing out the use of cancer causing chemicals, but for the environmental and medical groups behind the campaign got tired of waiting.
Faced with inaction from the company, supporters of Safe Cosmetics called for a boycott of all Johnson & Johnson products until the 'toxic' baby shampoo containing formaldehyde linked to cancer comes off the shelves. The mandate: all products must be removed by November 15.
As a result, Johnson & Johnson released what they called a "special statement" committing to the reformulation of all products and any new products would not contain the controversial preservative.
The statement from October 31 was the first press release on the situation since their publics lashed out in March 2009.
Do you think that the action taken by Johnson & Johnson was too drawn out? Did they alienate their publics by failing to be proactive about the ingredients in their products? Do you think their reputation is damaged as a result?