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Pepsi's Crisis Response: The Syringe Scare   Add to Cart Secured Document - MyPRSA Login or Purchase Required

Publication Date: 1994
Source: Silver Anvil Award
Product Code: 6BW-9412B04
Organization/Author/Firm: Pepsi-Cola Company
Category: Crisis Management
Industry: Consumer Products / Food - Beverage
Outcome: Crisis management / Crisis management

On June 10, 1993, a Seattle television station reported that a local couple had discovered a syringe in a can of Diet Pepsi. Soon, a second complaint in Seattle surfaced. The pattern prompted the U.S. FDA to issue a regional advisory, urging consumers to empty the contents of their Diet Pepsi cans into a glass before drinking. The warning commanded national media attention, and within 24 hours, reports of syringes in Diet Pepsi cans in disparate locations around the country led every network news broadcast. The intensity of public and regulatory scrutiny, the frightening images of potentially contaminated syringes in Diet Pepsi cans and the threat to the peak July 4th holiday sales period presented Pepsi-Cola Company with an unprecedented challenge to its trademarks and to its reputation. With no reasonable explanation from a manufacturing standpoint for this bizarre series of events, the FDA recommended a course of no recall. The media, unaccustomed to this course of action for an alleged product tampering of this magnitude, persisted in reporting "victims" claims and in looking to the Company for answers.

When syringes were found in Diet Pepsi cans across the country, Pepsi acted quickly and efficiently to put an end to the crisis and restore the public's confidence in the company.