Media Influencer

helping people break out of pigeonholes since 2003

J&J bypass

TAGS: None

This is rather tricky.

Johnson & Johnson sues the American Red Cross and other parties over…. What?! … the use of the RED CROSS?!

And as the author of the post (Ray Jordan, VP for corporate communications) points out, it is almost too easy for journalists to get a juicy headline out of this. First, there were press releases, both from the American Red Cross and from Johnson & Johnson. Then, there was the press storm. And then, a blog post on J&J blog JNJ BTW with Ray’s candid recognition that this is most unfortunate and is not going to be pretty from the outside.

So, I’ve now lived a classic corporate public affairs nightmare: announcing a lawsuit against the American Red Cross. Would I have chosen this exercise as a reputation-building opportunity for Johnson & Johnson? No, of course not.

We now have the words from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Not a voiceless press release but a real human being telling J&J’s side of the story, from the inside. We can make up our mind with that information. It is not just the media that have their say. Which is as it should be.

…as much as we might respect the American Red Cross, if we didn’t act we could open the floodgates to all infringers of our trademark and could do nothing about it. So even though we remain committed to supporting the primary mission of the American Red Cross through our philanthropic efforts, we simply can’t give them a pass on violating our trademark rights.[ed. more background here]

Trademark law, 100-years old agreement, big business against charity, media… this makes for a complex and a potentially agenda-driven affair. All of this is reflected in the blogosphere, open and free space it is, with commenters letting rip as well as providing some useful perspectives. So business as usual. The unusual bit, at least for most large corporations, is the tone and personality of the communication in the first post and further updates, as well as posting of hostile or unpleasant comments. I was at first struck by the simplicity with which people jumped to a conclusion about the situation, to condemn or ridicule. But comments sections also yielded people who took the trouble to follow the links to understand what’s going on. From the company’s point of view it must be jarring to see both types attached to a post that tries to put things straight, trying to keep the story clear and clean. The price for getting your story out there is losing control over where it ends and who adds to it. The ‘reward’ is the ability to bypass the media, an unmediated and more human reach to those who care about the whole story, not just the outrage of the day in the papers.

As a blogger, I have no illusions about what I can control. But companies operate under many delusions about that. Rather than focusing on what they can affect, they obsess about what they wish they could affect. Who they are, how they express and communicate it is under their control. What impact it has on people’s mind, how others chose to react, what gets added to their ‘message’, and how it is distributed further… is not.

People behind JNJ BTW have realised that, which is no mean feat for any company. It’s messy, frightening but it makes sense. A bypass on its own, however, is just a new lease of life. The rest depends on what you do with it. :)

Disclosure: I have been working with JNJ advising them on this for long enough to know that there are some very englightened people around and this is a result of their determination to understand how online has changed communications and of letting some of the blogging magic into the company.

TAGS: None

9 Responses to “J&J bypass”


  1. Johnson&Johnson v. Red Cross? WTF? : Ranting Daily
    on Aug 11th, 2007
    @ 14:58 pm

    [...] plus! Common people, this is shit! Adriana Lukas, writing on MediaInfluencer.net, says it’s all about the brand. Reading between the lines, I got that J&J hopes to build a greater image and [...]


  2. Alex
    on Aug 11th, 2007
    @ 15:17 pm

    I think someone is stupid. I really believe that after all this scandal goes down, J&J should give trademarks to ARC. I know it’s complicated, but that’s the way they gain that wanted image capital.
    my 2 cents…


  3. Johnnie Moore's Weblog
    on Aug 12th, 2007
    @ 3:13 am

    When corporate blogging gets tough……

    Johnson & Johnson are suing the Red Cross over the use of the Red Cross. Ah, good morning Mr Bull, may I show you this large red rag? J&J are blogging about it, and dealing with some fairly harsh comments……


  4. Philippe Borremans
    on Aug 13th, 2007
    @ 13:03 pm

    Hi Adriana,

    Interesting case here… In fact more than one case;

    1)how will J&J go on discussing this highly legal topic through their blog and

    2)what will the ultimate solution be with regards to the use of the red cross logo ?

    Thanks for pointing to this. A plus.


  5. JNJ: Crisis management turns to blogging « James Bishop’s Shopping Basket
    on Aug 13th, 2007
    @ 15:49 pm

    [...] post on the topic puts forward an excellent analysis of the control issues that corporations face in [...]


  6. Blog quotes 2007-8-13 : herbsawyer.com
    on Aug 14th, 2007
    @ 5:36 am

    [...] Adriana Lucas, who’s helped J&J get in the blogging groove, says (via Johnnies Moore’s Weblog) The price for getting your story out there is losing control over where it ends and who adds to it. The ‘reward’ is the ability to bypass the media, an unmediated and more human reach to those who care about the whole story, not just the outrage of the day in the papers. [...]


  7. broadstuff
    on Aug 14th, 2007
    @ 22:23 pm

    Seeing Red Crosses before ones eyes…….

    From the spluttering over morning coffee department:

    One of the interesting trends in the blogosphere in the last year or so is the increasing usage of blogging by PR people to “share their sponsor’s messages” with us. Now, there have been some …


  8. Johnson & Johnson Sues the American Red Cross… at Animus Ex Machina
    on Aug 16th, 2007
    @ 18:45 pm

    [...] the use of the Red Cross. Adriana Lukas has a good commentary post about this public affairs fiasco. Of course, when you just read the title and not the articles [...]


  9. Better Communication Results
    on Aug 21st, 2007
    @ 13:20 pm

    [...] J&J bypass : Media Influencer As Hugh MacLeod says, “About as good an example of why corps should blog as I’ve ever seen” Johnson & Johnson sues the American Red Cross and other parties over…. What?! … the use of the RED CROSS?! (tags: corporate blogging web2.0) [...]

Leave a Reply

© 2009 Media Influencer. All Rights Reserved.

This blog is powered by Wordpress and Magatheme by Bryan Helmig.