There's a Syringe in My Pepsi Can!

Essay by k-to-the-cUniversity, Bachelor's October 2007

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When a crisis occurs in an organization, this can interrupt the way an organization conducts business. A crisis can occur at any unforeseen time and can take an organization off guard. Effective communication is critical when managing a crisis within an organization. "There's a syringe in my Pepsi can!" is the case study that will be used toevaluate PepsiCo's effectiveness of communication among their publics. This paper will highlight the various public relations communication tools and techniques PepsiCo used to inform, influence, and motivate the publics. Finally, the paper will conclude with an evaluation tools used by PepsiCo and explore other options of tools that could have benefitted PepsiCo.

Case OverviewDuring the summer of 1993, PepsiCo found itself in extensive news coverage. Multiple claims of foreign objects being found in unopened cans of Diet Pepsi were surfacing. On June 9, 1993, a couple from Tacoma, Washington claimed they found a used syringe in a half-empty can of Diet Pepsi. The couple turned the can over to their lawyer who in turn contacted the health department. The following day a report of the incident was broadcasted on a local television station. Two days after the initial incident, a second needle claim was made in Washington. Local media picked up the story and added that there have been no reports of injury in either case. On June 12 the FDA issued a five-state consumer alert. This alert asked all consumers to pour soft drinks into a cup before consuming. The FDA did not recommend recalling the Diet Pepsi soft drink. The next day, there was another claim of a syringe found in a can of Diet Pepsi but this time the claim came from a consumer in New Orleans. By June 16 there have been claims filed in 24 states.