Take Two of These and Call a Coroner in the Morning: Tylenol PR's Effective Communication Case Study Analysis

Essay by mrssdnUniversity, Bachelor'sA, April 2007

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Take Two of these & Call a Coroner in the MorningIn 1982, American consumers were gripped with terror and fear. 12-year-old Mary Kellerman of Elk Grove Village just wanted to cure a morning headache, not knowing that the drug she sought to relieve her would send her to her death. It was the same case for the 27-year-old postal worker Adam Janus of Arlington Heights and his brother Stanley and his brother's new wife, Theresa, who, returning from the hospital after the death of Adam passed around a bottle of Tylenol, not knowing that the capsules in the bottle were the same that Adam. Collapsing almost at the same time as the paramedics came in to attend to them, the couple, who took cyanide-laced capsules of Extra Strength Tylenol, was dead not long after. 35-year-old Paula Prince of Chicago, 27-year-old Mary Reiner of Winfield and 31-year-old Mary McFarland were next in line in what would be remembered as the Tylenol Murders of 1982.

It was what Barbara and David Mikkelson described as the time when "we lost our innocence in 1982." ``This was an outbreak of chemical terrorism,'' recalled Cook County Medical Examiner Edmund Donoghue, who investigated the 1982 killings as the office's chief deputy. ``It was kind of a ridiculous thought at the time that Tylenol, the world's greatest pain reliever, would have killed someone.''As fast as the deaths came were the actions of Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Tylenol manufacturer McNeil Consumer Products. The company immediately recalled more than 20 million bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and burned every one even as Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne banned the sale of Tylenol products and 1,300 volunteers canvassed the city to warn the public about the potential danger. The public was quick to respond as across the...