Ruin Your Corporate Image 101

CNN Money is reporting on a lawsuit that truly infuriates me: Johnson and Johnson is suing the American Red Cross because the charity is using the red cross symbol on certain emergency/first-aid products that it sells for fund-raising.

Now, apparently, Clara Barton herself signed some agreement with Johnson and Johnson in 1895 about the use of the symbol on medical supplies. But let me ask you this: what do you think of when you see that iconic red emblem? I tell you what I don’t think of. I don’t think of band-aids, or gauze, or other home medical supplies. I think of a humanitarian organization. You see a red cross with four even-length sides? What do you call it? A red cross? Yeah, I thought so.

Way to go, Johnson and Johnson. Sue the charity. You look great doing it. You look great fussing your way right into the Corporate Embarrassment Hall of Fame. You almost make the RIAA look noble. Well, not really, but this is downright shameful.

14 thoughts on “Ruin Your Corporate Image 101

  1. Don’t mistake the Red Cross for some perfect organization. They have a long history of stealing from others. From the infamous re-selling of governemtn relief boxes intended for battle-weary soldiers in WWII to the most recent case of pleading for money to help the victims of 9/11 and then keeping all the money sent in, the American Red Cross has proven itself capable of anything to increase it’s revenue. Neither do I buy the so-called philanthropy of the ARC in selling “medical supplies” consisting of cheap nail files and nail clippers at Target stores.

  2. I’m not trying to dispute what you’re saying, but some relevant links would be useful for the other five people who read my site (and for myself, I love research binges).Of course, the organization itself isn’t necessarily horrible just because some particular folks within are corrupt. That would be like saying America is garbage just because of it’s crappy leadership.I’m sure there are loads of volunteers withing the ARC who have genuine good intentions, and there’s no denying that they have, in fact, accomplished great things in troubling times.Now if J+J can prove that the ARC isn’t on the up and up with these kits, then I can understand their ire. But I want to reemphasize a point I made in my initial post: I don’t think may people see a red cross and think “Johnson and Johnson.”

  3. In light of Johnson & Johnson’s decision to sue the American Red Cross, I will boycott its products and actively encourage my family and friends to do the same. The fact that a $53.3 billion company would target one of the nation’s premier humanitarian organizations in an attempt to make more money is appalling. It is my hope that the Red Cross will prevail in this legal dispute and that Johnson and Johnson’s profits will suffer as a result of this public relations debacle. Johnson and Johnson’s actions in filing this “civil complaint” expose the depth of corporate greed in America today.

  4. It is an outrage. It is a waste of the donor dollar to make the Red Cross fight this. I know this organization has been working diligently over the past few years in particular to streamline, cut waste, etc. To make them waste money and valuable time fighting this lawsuit because of corporate greed is just wrong. It’s wrong.

  5. Maybe the ARC would have been better not violating the logo co-use agreement with J&J in the first place if they wanted to save legal fees. Although Ploafmaster did not mention it, a 100 year agreement allowed ARC to use the logo as long as it was not used for commercial purposes. The ARC violated that agreement when they licensed the logo to a manufacturer of cheap tweezers and nail clippers to make a buck. I’m no fan of corporations, but enforcng an agreement made in good faith is an acceptable thing for J&J to do. If ARC wanted to have more money for relief maybe their CEO should return some of his $400,000/year salary. The Red Cross is still up to its shenanigans. Just this week it was disclosed that they had an aid program for Katrina victims that they did not disclose publicly, required a 20-page application form to discourage people from applying for it, and then never contacted many of the people who did manage to apply. Sure, a $40 million Katrina aid program looked good in the books and on Powerpoint slides, but then they characteristically tried to keep as much of the money as possible.

  6. Look C. Reaves, I know Stephen Hall is from the ARC (IP address gave you away, dude), but you surely must be from J+J. I mean, I know you do that Polaroid art stuff, but perhaps it’s just a side gig to your J+J day job?I didn’t mention the 100 year-old-agreement because I didn’t want to regurgitate the whole article, which I linked to. You still haven’t linked to any of your stuff. You just keep dropping these accusations for stuff that ARC did. I don’t have time to dig that up – some links would be great.Hit us with some links, and then we’ll see what’s what.

  7. Here some historic contributions: The Red Cross Movement was born in 1863 by a Swiss business man, and the Red Cross emblem is created using the inverse of the Swiss flag. Clara Barton traveled thru Europe where she learned about the movement, and then she returned and founded the American National Red Cross in 1881. Mr. Robert Wood Johnson founded Johnson & Johnson in 1886, five years after the introduction of the Red Cross emblem in the US, and 23 years after the conception of the Red Cross emblem by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It looks like Mr. Robert Wood Johnson got the idea of the Red Cross “logo” out of the widely use of the emblem by the American Red Cross National Society and the ICRC. Now about the Barton Agreement: “In 1895, when Congress was first considering legislation to charter the Red Cross, J&J went to Clara Barton and negotiated an agreement (the “Barton Agreement”) that would have permitted J&J to continue to use the red cross emblem if Congress gave the exclusive use of the emblem to the Red Cross in a charter. The Barton Agreement was effective only if Congress passed a specific law that would have prohibited J&J from continuing to use a red cross symbol. Congress did not pass the law, so the agreement never took effect. Thus, the Barton Agreement was effectively rendered null and void. J&J admitted this fact in testimony before Congress in 1942 in hearings in the House of Representatives on the “Protection of the Name and Emblem of the Red Cross.” 77th Cong., 2d Sess. 279-81 (1942).”So, this whole show perfomance named “lawsuit” by J&J doesn’t seems to me but a mistaken way to carry attention to J&J over the use of the red cross, don’t you think?

  8. You made the initial accusations Ploafmaster. It’s up to you to provide facts rather than just opinion. You felt that a 100 year old agreement that ARC would not use the trademark commericially was an unimportant detail!? And no, I don’t work for J&J. I just know that the ARC is not the perfect little angel it pretends to be.And no wonder only five people read your blog if you research and attack people who post their observations here. Duh. I’m outta here so make it four.

  9. Poopy…I felt that would be an intellegent way to start my response. SERIOUSLY!!! When will corporate greed end. I agree that the ARC has not been a perfect institution, but I do believe they are a good organization. Size lends itself to corruption, and it is a fine example. On the other hand, a red cross?? a red cross??? My father is a graphic designer and I know a bit about branding. Are the crosses identical in proportion of width and such?? Cause I can think of a million stores with a yellow seashell on their sign at the beach but I don’t see anyone suing them about it.On the other hand, are the makers of the ARC marked products making a profit. Most likely, so perhaps it is problematic.But at the end of the day, problematic or not, the dispute should be ended by the ARC stating it will not after this campaign continue, and J&J should shut up, and get over it. I imagine most of their stockholder, no matter how blue blooded really aren’t in the mood for the fight.What ever happened to communication? Whatever happened to ethics? All this crap bothers me. All I can say is:POOPY!

  10. C. Reaves,I believe he’s looking for proof about claims that you’ve made, such as the one about the phony Katrina relief program. The accusations he has made are factual statements: Johnson and Johnson is indeed suing The Red Cross, which even you acknowledge. The nature of his accusations could be called in to question, which you are trying to do, but since you are visiting his blog to refute one of his posts, factual backup would do you much better than trying to turn it back on him.He didn’t attack you. He asked you to furnish proof for claims that you were making. If you can’t do that, why bother making the claims in the first place?

  11. Before you pass judgement on the Red Cross, I think it’s important to know the facts of the case. I also think it’s important to know the facts about the Red Cross. J&J claims that it began using the Red Cross emblem before the American Red Cross. In fact, the Red Cross began using the red cross emblem in 1881, six years before Johnson & Johnson began using the emblem in 1887!! The organization isn’t peffect nor does it claim to be, it did not steal money from 9/11 – in fact the donated money helped thousands of victims and still today they provide services. If you believe everything you read or hear than you do yourself a disservice by not finding out the facts first.

  12. I don’t want anybody to be afraid that I know little facts about who’s posting on my site, but I think it’s important that I disclose certain pieces of info. Nell, just like Stephen Hall, posted from an ARC computer. Now, I think everybody here can tell that I’m on the ARC’s side here, but I also think it’s fair for other readers to know that certain posters’ opinions are possibly influenced by other affiliations.Nell, I’m not telling you not to post (I’m glad you did – another comment!), I just wanted to level the playing field a bit.BTW, in case everybody doesn’t know – when you leave a comment, the site automatically tracks the IP address of the computer you post from. That’s how I could identify the ARC commenters. As for Jolly Old C. Reaves – well, it’s not often you see somebody fiercely fight for the giant corporate entity over a charity, so I decided to see if I could find out more about him.I’m not doing research on all my readers – I don’t have time for that 🙂

  13. Mugs, I didn’t visit his blog to refute one of his posts, and I didn’t refute anything he said. What I did do was offer my own interpretation of events so people might see that all is not what it may seem with the ARC. The ARC is not Santa Claus as most people seem to automatically assume. Now Ploafmaster has branded me as “Jolly Old C. Reaves” – as smarmy a piece of name calling as I have seen. Let me give you some advice Ploafmaster: deal with people’s IDEAS, not their persona. Don’t track people’s identities down if they disagree with your interpretation, even in the name of “protecting your readers” What baloney. Clearly, Ploafmaster, you expect everyone to agree with what you say. How boring. Why accuse me of working for J&J simply because I don’t agree with your interpretation of the facts? Do you not recognize that as a typical unspeak technique – to cast doubt on a dissenter’s motives even with no evidence at all? Also, why give me a smarmy moniker because I don’t agree with your interpretation? That’s another propaganda ploy – give the dissenter a funny name so he won’t be taken seriously. Can you spell bias?As for positng links, who here can’t do a Google search? I have to PROVE my position in writing and no one else does? Isn’t that yet another manipulative ploy – hold the other party up to a higher level of proof than yourself? Not gonna work for me, and the remaining 4 readers shouldn’t put up with it either.

  14. I could not have described the true character of the current Johnson & Johnson corporation any better then J&J did itself by suing the American Red Cross. It is the moral equivalent to suing Mother Teresa. Sean Dix

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