Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 24, 2009 05:00 PM
There isn't anything that can do more damage to a brand's credibility than a product recall. Stork Craft, the Canadian manufacturer of baby cribs, is reeling from a recall of over 2 million drop-side cribs -- the largest crib recall ever. About 150,000 of the recalled cribs were sold under a Fisher-Price brand, and the company's phone lines are jammed with calls from anxious parents.
The US Consumer Products Safety Commission reported that four infants died from being caught in the crib's side gates, which slide up and down. Drop-side cribs have been the subject of criticism before. In the past two years, close to one million of them were recalled by Simplicity.
Recalls involving possible injury or death are a brand's worst nightmare. Just a few months ago, Toyota recalled almost 4 million Lexus and Toyota models -- the largest Toyota recall ever -- because of "unintended acceleration." Toyota initially resisted the recall, and was reprimanded by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration for an "inaccurate and misleading" press release.
While some brands falter after a product recall, even declaring bankruptcy as a result, others turn a devastating negative into a positive. The best-known such recall occurred when, in 1982, several people died after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide. Tylenol's manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, spent over $100 million to pull all product from the shelves and repackage it in tamper-proof bottles. While initial sales of Tylenol plummeted, the company's sensitive reaction helped the product regained its market share just one year later.