After 96 reports in the U.S. of Galaxy Note7 smartphones overheating (including several fires caught on viral videos), Samsung has issued two recalls of its top-of-the-line Note7 smartphone and stopped production of the device altogether. Less than two months after its launch, the Note7 is dead, and Samsung must now try to fix the reputational mess the phone has caused.

Samsung's double recall is highly unusual. "It is rare for a recalling firm to have to re-announce a recall due to safety problems with the original remedy," says Scott Wolfson, spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The scale of the recall is huge as well—involving 1.9 million phones in the U.S. alone.

But this type of corporate crisis is hardly unprecedented. With the Note7 fiasco, Samsung now joins the ranks of many large companies that have had to scramble to contain the damage caused when one of their key products was either discovered to be dangerous or just provoked a public backlash.

Samsung's problems are far from over. The company will not only have to deal with the logistics and expense of the recall but also must now put in the hard work required to repair its most valuable asset: its brand.

“When you’re a company, your brand is your promise,” says John Jacobs, executive director of the Center for Financial Markets and Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “Samsung is a huge company, and they have a lot invested in their brand.” 

Other big companies have had serious product crises and still managed to survive, though not always regaining their former glory.

With that in mind, here are six other large companies that went through the wringer with a major product and tried everything they could to limit the damage.



Hasbro Easy-Bake Oven (2007)

Recalled Hasbro Easy-Bake Oven

According to Wolfson, the last time the CPSC had to coordinate two successive high-profile recalls on the same product was almost a decade ago with this classic children's toy.

Introduced in 1963 by Kenner Products, the Easy-Bake Oven lets youngsters not only pretend they’re cooking but also actually make cakes and cookies.

To bake the small treats, the Easy-Bake Oven initially used a high-wattage incandescent bulb that could reach baking temperatures of up to 400° F. (According to this history of the Easy-Bake by Collectors Weekly, Kenner tried early on to call its toy the "Safety Bake Oven" but the company learned that it wouldn't be able to advertise it that way.)

The Crisis. Through a series of acquisitions, Kenner Products was absorbed into Hasbro. In a mid-2000s redesign of the Easy-Bake, Hasbro abandoned the traditional “push through” design of the oven that used an incandescent bulb for heat. Instead, it went with a front-loading oven with an electrical heating element, making it more like a real oven.

Children began getting their hands caught in the new oven door, and some of those children were burned.

By 2006, just a few months after the oven was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, the CPSC received reports of 29 children getting their hands caught in the oven, with five of the reports involving burns.

The Outcome. After those initial injury reports, Hasbro announced a recall of 985,000 ovens in February 2007. The remedy consisted of a retrofit kit that was supposed to prevent children from getting their fingers caught.

But that didn’t fix the problem. The company received reports of 249 more children getting their fingers caught and 77 reports of burns. That total included 16 second- and third-degree burns, one so serious that it required a partial amputation of a 5-year-old girl’s finger.

In July 2007, the company expanded the recall, asking consumers to return the ovens in exchange for another Hasbro product.

Hasbro redesigned the Easy-Bake Oven, again using a lightbulb as a heat source, and the product returned to the market soon after the recall.

With more than 30 million units sold since its introduction, the Easy-Bake Oven is still available today. The current version uses an electric heating element instead of the bulb, a change mandated when federal energy standards effectively banned the 100-watt bulb.

Maclaren Folding Strollers (2009)

Maclaren Folding Stroller

In the early 2000s, the U.K.-based maker of pricey, high-end baby carriages had made its stylish strollers a “must-have” for new parents. The strollers were routinely seen with celebrities and on television.

The Crisis. In November 2009, the CPSC noted that the hinges of Maclaren’s folding strollers could pinch the fingers of children while they were being opened or closed by an adult. That resulted in some children having the tips of their fingers amputated, with 12 such cases reported to the CPSC.

The Outcome. In the Harvard Business Review, Maclaren CEO Farzad Rastegar admitted that the company was blindsided when news of the problem—and an impending recall by the CPSC—leaked out one day before the company’s planned announcement, causing the company’s e-mail and phone system to crash.

As part of the recall, the company made latch guards available for all its stroller models. But demand initially outstripped supply, Rastegar said.

After the recall, the CPSC received further reports of injuries. The company made an additional announcement in 2011, reminding consumers of the danger and urging them to install the free hinge guards on their strollers.

In 2011 Maclaren USA filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but other units of the worldwide company did not—and Maclaren strollers are still being sold in the U.S.

Bridgestone/Firestone Tires (2000)

A Firestone AT Tire

Throughout the 1990s, as SUVs became increasingly popular, the Ford Explorer emerged as one of the top sellers. Many were equipped with Firestone (which had been acquired by Bridgestone in 1988) tires as standard equipment.

The Crisis. In May 2000 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into problems with Firestone's ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT tires on the Explorer. By Aug. 1, 2000, the agency had received 193 reports of the tread separating from the Firestone tires while on the road, resulting in 21 fatalities.

In many of the accidents, the vehicle rolled over, a problem more common in SUVs, such as the Explorer, because of their higher center of gravity.

The Outcome. The initial response was slow and contentious. Reports such as Time magazine’s five-month investigation suggested that Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone knew about the problems well before the NHTSA report. Initially, according to Time, the company attempted quick fixes, such as lowering recommended tire pressures.

When the problem became public, the companies turned on each other. Firestone blamed Ford’s vehicle, noting that the tires were safe on other SUVs. Ford blamed Firestone’s tires, saying tires from other manufacturers didn’t fail on the Explorer.  

By August 2000, it became clear that a containment strategy wasn’t working. Firestone launched a massive recall of 14.4 million Firestone tires. Ford upped the ante in May 2001, announcing a tire-replacement program for more Firestone tires—a move affecting 13 million additional tires—on certain models of its SUVs and light trucks.

Firestone sales dropped by 20 percent in 2001 after the recalls, but the brand survived and began regaining lost market share by 2003.

Rely Tampon (1980)

A package of Rely tampons

Introduced in 1975, the Rely Tampon was Procter & Gamble’s attempt to add new technology to a tried-and-true product.

Touted as superabsorbent, the new tampon used synthetic materials that allowed women to keep a tampon in place longer. The product’s tagline: “Remember, they named it Rely.”

The Crisis. In 1980, the CDC, then known as the Center for Disease Control, recognized toxic shock syndrome (TSS)—a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections—as a notifiable disease. Though the incidence of toxic shock syndrome is not restricted to menstruating women—it can affect men and was initially identified in children—several studies at the time reported that TSS was most prevalent in women using tampons. And the risk of TSS was “substantially greater” in women who used superabsorbent Rely tampons.

The Outcome. In September 1980 Procter & Gamble withdrew Rely from the market. That move was accompanied by a massive campaign to educate women on safe tampon use, which reduced menstrual-related TSS drastically, from 814 cases in 1980 to just five cases in 1997.

Procter & Gamble, which now owns the Tampax brand, and other manufacturers have since introduced tampons using absorbent synthetic materials, although not the same ones used in Rely tampons.

New Coke (1985)

A 12-ounce can of New Coke from the 1980s.

After decades of success Coca-Cola decided to do something odd: change the 99-year-old Coke recipe to make it sweeter.

The company was hoping to counter upstart rival PepsiCo, which had been gradually gaining market share for 15 years. The beverage giant went all in: It didn’t merely add New Coke to the line—it replaced the original recipe entirely.

The Crisis. Not enough people liked New Coke. Pepsi drinkers were loyal to their brand and weren’t that interested in switching.

Passionate Coca-Cola drinkers missed that “classic Coke” taste and bombarded the company with as many as 1,500 outraged phone calls per day. According to the Coca-Cola Co.'s own official history of the New Coke decision, one Texas man went so far as to drive to a local bottler and buy $1,000 worth of original-recipe Coca-Cola.

The Outcome. The backlash over New Coke was so intense that the company quickly did an about-face. Within three months of the launch, it announced that the original recipe would return in the form of Classic Coke, an event that caused ABC to interrupt its TV soap opera "General Hospital" with the breaking news.

New Coke was rebranded Coke II and continued in limited distribution until 2002. In 2009 Coca-Cola Classic was re-rebranded as just plain Coca-Cola.  

Some beverage business analysts—and the company itself—believe the debacle ended up becoming a turning point in the cola wars: Coke soon stopped losing market share to Pepsi.

Extra-Strength Tylenol (1982)

Extra-Strength Tylenol

Initially introduced in 1955 as a prescription drug for children, Tylenol—a brand name for acetaminophen—established itself by the early 1980s as a leader in the over-the-counter painkiller category, after aspirin.

The Crisis. In September 1982 Johnson & Johnson faced every company’s worst nightmare: product tampering so serious that it was killing users.

In the Chicago area, seven people died after taking Extra Strength Tylenol capsules that were later found to be tainted with deadly potassium cyanide. Two of those who died included the brother and sister-in-law of an early victim, postal worker Adam Janus.

The couple suffered headaches at Janus’ funeral and unwittingly took tainted Tylenol capsules from his medicine cabinet.

The Outcome. The investigation narrowed the cause to product tampering, though no one was ever convicted of the crime. The affected bottles came from different production plants and were sold by different drug stores.

In Chicago police walked the streets with bullhorns informing residents of the dangers of taking the potentially tainted painkiller.

Johnson & Johnson ended up removing all Extra-Strength Tylenol from the shelves, a total of 31 million bottles nationwide.

A new tamper-resistant caplet was introduced. The packaging was revamped as well, featuring seals on the box, cap, and bottle with warnings not to use the product if all the seals weren’t intact.  

The response, which reportedly cost Johnson & Johnson $100 million, is now considered by many to be a textbook case of proper crisis management. It is still widely studied in MBA programs.

The company’s once-robust market share, which had dropped to the single digits in the wake of the tampering, rebounded to precrisis levels, allowing Tylenol to save its brand and even the Extra-Strength variety.

The changes in packaging, which were adopted across the drug industry, have since prevented a product-tampering incident on this scale.