Caset Study About Pepsi 1993 Issue
Business and Management
Submitted By traceeed
I. Background Information
Pepsi-Cola’s handling of its 1993 crisis demonstrated remarkable public relations consistency. An issue that pervasively raised is as well attended quickly and resulted positively. A retired meat salesman Tex Triplett, 82, of Tacoma, Washington, and his wife, Mary, 78, reported that while looking into a Diet Pepsi can for a prize-winning word to complete the phrase "Be young, have fun, drink Pepsi," they instead found a syringe. They turned the materials over to their attorney, who then contacted the Pierce County Health Department. A television station went with the story on Thursday, June 10th. KIRO anchorman Gary Justice said that the story merited attention because of a local Sudafed tampering in 1991 that killed two residents, and that needles evoked the fear of AIDS. The Seattle Times reported the story Friday morning, adding that Mary Triplett said that neither she nor her husband had shown signs of being sick.
Another Pepsi-needle claim was made in Washington State on Friday. That weekend, The FDA issued a five-state alert advising consumers to inspect their Diet Pepsi. FDA chief Donald Kessler told the public to empty the contents of the can into a glass or cup before drinking. On Sunday night came a similar claim from a woman in the Cleveland area. By 9:30 AM Monday, June 14th, there was another claim. And by the time the day was over, 8 more had been made. At PepsiCo headquarters in Somers, NY the Pepsi public affairs crisis team huddled, hoping that the new reports would not hit the media. But on Monday afternoon, a New Orleans man was telling CNN his syringe story, and by Monday evening it was the number two story on the Associated Press headlines (Ruth Bader Ginsburg being nominated to the Supreme Court was #1). That night, Pepsi crisis counselors decided to fight the media crisis with media. "If you're going to conduct your trial in the media, you've got to do it with the tools they're used to working with," said Rebecca Maderia, Pepsi's VP of public affairs. Pepsi North America-CEO Craig Weatherup spoke with FDA Commissioner David Kessler that night, and the two agreed that a product recall was not necessary. Pepsi set up a crisis command center in the company's TV room, which became Weatherup's HQ for the week.
"To make that statement, that the can is 99.9% safe, was our defense. We just tried to explain that in 50 ways," Ms. Madeira said. Of course, this statement, if true, would imply 1,000 unsafe cans for every million that Pepsi produces. Dozens more people from all over the country reported finding needles, pins, screws, a crack cocaine vial, and a bullet in Diet Pepsi cans. Pepsi began producing video news releases that would be distributed via satellite to local TV stations across the country. Pepsi estimates that the footage was shown on 403 stations, and seen by 187 million viewers.
In a separate story, authorities disclosed that 14 separate incidents of pins found in bread baked by the LePage Bakery Co. had been reported in four New England states since 1990. A public warning had not been issued earlier because officials were only recently made aware of the extent of the problem. The Food and Drug Administration apologized to the Tripletts after CBS-TV and The Los Angeles Times, quoting FDA officials, reported that the syringe they found may have belonged to a diabetic relative. The Tripletts stopped giving interviews. More than 60 cases had been reported. The commissioner of Food and Drug