A Lesson in Crisis PR From Ikea’s Dresser Recall

August 10, 2016

A lesson in crisis pr from ikeas dresser recall

If you’ve been reading the news lately, you have probably heard about the major recall on Ikea’s Malm-style dressers. The company announced the recall last month, following the tragic death of three young boys between 2014 and 2016 when the dressers tipped over on them.

Ikea’s Approach

When the first two deaths occurred in 2014, Ikea did not immediately respond. It wouldn’t be until over a year later in 2015 that the company issued its first recall, and not in the traditional sense of the word. Instead of pulling the Malm dressers from homes and stores, the company offered wall anchoring kits free-of-charge and encouraged the public to use them. During the year in between the deaths and the first recall, Ikea denied any fault and did not publicly express any remorse. When a third child died this past February, the company waited until the end of June to issue a full, traditional recall of the Malm-style dressers. To promote the recall, the company has released statements and circulated a television commercial, emphasizing the voluntary nature of the recall and still failing to take any blame. The message has been focused on the importance of anchoring its furniture with the kits they provided with the last recall, in a sense placing blame on parents who hadn’t heard of the wall anchor program. The response is questionable at best, and time will only tell if Ikea’s profits suffer as a result of its slow rise to some accountability.

Ikea vs. Tylenol

Most public relations professionals have heard about the classic crisis case of Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol, when the company established a new precedent for dealing with dangers related to a product. Johnson & Johnson’s case involved the deaths of seven people after ingesting Extra-Strength Tylenol which had been laced with cyanide. In spite of the product being the company’s best seller at that time, the company immediately pulled the product off the shelves and offered a safer replacement to customers for free. When its Extra-Strength product returned two months later, the bottle featured the tamper-proof seal we all know today. Unlike Ikea, Johnson & Johnson responded quickly and effectively, putting consumers first with every decision. As a result, its customers remained loyal.

Dealing with a crisis of any size is difficult, no matter the industry. Crises are unpredictable and as such, hard to plan for, but doing so is certainly not impossible. A public relations expert can help you to plan for every possible scenario, and come up with an action plan should your company ever face an emergency situation. Our full-service advertising agency holds the skills needed to see you through good times and bad. Call us today to learn more.