How 5 tarnished brands made major comebacks

To rebound after a crisis, organizations are largely at the mercy of the public. With a sound strategy, though, the fallout can be lessened. Here’s how five corporations weathered the worst.

In the aftermath of its recent E.coli problems, Chipotle is counting on its loyal fans and the public at large to forgive and forget when it comes to the brand’s damaged reputation.

Company executives aren’t leaving it to chance, however.

With guidance from its branding experts and a solid crisis management strategy, Chipotle has taken steps to gradually restore trust with consumers. For other brands that have suffered from a tainted reputation, it was strong leadership that helped them to turn things around.

Here are some of the most remarkable corporate comeback stories:

Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol poisoning

In 1982, seven Chicago-area residents died from cyanide-laced Extra-Strength Tylenol. Marketers predicted that the Tylenol brand would never recover from the sabotage.

Johnson & Johnson recalled 31 million bottles of Tylenol from stores and offered a safer replacement product free of charge. Rather than standing still, the organization took action to show that its goal was to put customers first.

The following year, Tylenol’s share of the analgesic market climbed 23 percent, and The New York Times wrote, ” It is almost as if nothing ever happened.

PepsiCo’s can-tampering rumors

In 1993, a syringe was allegedly found in a can of Diet Pepsi in Washington. The following week, more than 50 reports of Pepsi can tampering sprung up nationwide. As PepsiCo and the Food and Drug Administration were confident the reports were fabrications, the brand staunchly defended itself, and it provided the public with a comprehensive report on its soda canning process and videos.

“We’ve gone through every can line, every plant, numerous records…” company president Craig Weatherup said in a 1993 interview . “All the evidence points to syringes going into the cans after they were opened.”

Due to the brand’s transparency and dedication to finding the cause of the foul play, Diet Pepsi sales fell just 2 percent during the crisis and recovered within a single month.

JetBlue’s weeklong breakdown

In 2007, JetBlue cancelled 1,000 flights in five days after an ice storm stranded thousands of East Coast customers. The organization’s CEO, David Neelman, quieted some of the uproar by being candid about the cancelations.

Neelman wrote a public letter of apology, offered monetary compensation and appeared on numerous television shows to own up to the company’s mishandling of the problem. Given that the airline prides itself on customer service, it was Neelman’s dedication to that image that proved crucial to reviving JetBlue’s damaged rep.

BP’s underwater oil spill

BP was arguably the most hated company in America after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

The offshore oil spill cost CEO Tony Hayward his job and forced the organization to sell assets to finance a $20 billion compensation fund for victims.

RELATED: Keep your cool in a crisis with these 13 tips.

BP stations in the U.S. suffered from declining sales, and the company struggled with its image. Who could forget those heart-wrenching Dawn detergent commercials with the little, oil-covered ducklings?

By 2011 however, BP had reversed the previous year’s $3.3 billion net loss, and it posted $26 billion in income. Additionally, brand executives revamped environmental initiatives to prevent future damage. Although the organization is still recovering, being adamant in taking action has swayed some consumers to drift back.

Target’s data breach

During the 2013 holiday shopping season, Target suffered a data breach that compromised 40 million customer credit and debit card records. In the months that followed, the retail giant paid out an estimated $148 million, and CEO Gregg Steinhafel was forced to step down.

In the aftermath of the hack, Target overhauled its divisions that handled security and technology . Additionally, 1,800 stores upgraded their cash registers to accept new higher-security “chip cards” that many banks were rolling out for their customers. By 2015, in-sale stores grew 2.3 percent, and online sales climbed 40 percent.

Readers, what other corporate comebacks are worth noting, and why?

Mary Kate Fields is a student at Villanova University and a campus editor for LinkedIn. A version of this story originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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Topics: PR

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