Johnson & Johnson Needs to Show they Love Babies

Author: Ramsey Poston
Published: November 04, 2011 at 10:04 am

Johnson's Baby ShampooEveryone is opposed to poisoning children and the potential of poisoning children. When it comes to poisons in children’s products, everyone is opposed to that as well. When you are a mega corporation like Johnson & Johnson it’s a good idea to be on the side of the angels and be pro children. But the company, which is the subject of a boycott by an activist group concerned by the presence of two potentially cancerous chemicals from Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, seems to be dragging its feet.

J&J’s statements are less than assuring. The company has indicated that it is gradually phasing out the chemicals. In a statement this week J&J said the about chemicals in question, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, are safe and approved by regulators in the U.S. and other countries, but that it is gradually phasing them out of its baby products.

This is a rather tone-deaf response especially given the fact that the company is already making the Baby Shampoo free of the toxic chemicals in other countries. (Note, none of the news stories included a direct quote from the J&J statement, which indicates that it was not well written. Furthermore, I could not find the statement on the J&J website, which probably means the statement was provided upon request only.)

I have no idea if the chemicals pose a threat to children or not but I do know that perception and fear are powerful motivators. While I suspect that some executive at J&J likely made a financial bottom-line decision the public relations handling of this and a pending boycott could cost the company much more in dollars and reputation.

J&J’s public relations positioning presents an easy target for its detractors to make common sense statements that appeal to any reasonable person. Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said, “Clearly there is no need for Johnson & Johnson to expose babies to a known carcinogen when the company is already making safer alternatives. All babies deserve safe products.” Who is going to argue with that?

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Article Author: Ramsey Poston

Ramsey Poston is President of Tuckahoe Strategies. Poston has extensive experience managing high level communications issues for sports, business and political organizations.

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