Tom Garrity

Toyota, Tiger and Tylenol

In Crisis Communication on February 23, 2010 at 2:27 am

Toyota, Tiger and Tylenol… I can’t get these images out of my head.  They sit there like a Mount Rushmore of triumph and tragedy.

The triumph, they were the best at their respective crafts, had the best reputations.  The tragedy, all crashed with such velocity that they make the Exxon Valdez public relations fiasco appear to be a communications masterpiece (which it was not).

Toyota perfected Lean Manufacturing to the point that others were mimicked their approach.  But in the name of profit and pride they hung their dealers and customers out to dry over faulty computer programs, brakes and in spite of United States safety regulations.

Tiger was one of the best to ever play sport and business of golf.  His ability to earn trust for his brands was truly unparalleled.  His fault is not in being human, it is for ceding responsibility for his brand to people who didn’t have his well being in mind.  The handling of the mea culpa infomercial was on par with a Bachelor “rose ceremony” and go down in the annals of PR as contrived, staged and just bad theatre.

And Tylenol once set the mark for how to handle crisis communications.  Their handling of the infamous immediate recall, that followed the deaths of seven people from cyanide-laced capsules in 1982, set the industry standard on such events.  Someone must have misplaced the manual because it took the 20-months to make similar recall (granted the situations between 1982 and 2010 are different).

Toyota, Tiger and Tylenol are in some ways like the infamous Jessica Rabbit (from who framed Roger Rabbit)… she wasn’t bad, she was just drawn that way.  Only they weren’t bad, they are now perceived that way because of some gaffs in their checks and balances.

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