Bayer/Cipro Part 2
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Bayer/Cipro Part 2

Paul Holmes

October 31

A second series of ads begins to appear in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, USA Today, and Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Under the headline, “You Can Count On Us,” the ads detail the company’s response to the crisis: ramped up production, donations to workers on the front lines, increased shipments to areas of need such as New York, and its agreement with the Department of Health & Social Services.

November 1
The New York Times publishes an article that looks at the manufacture of Cipro in West Haven, Conn., and the role employees at Bayer are playing in the war on terrorism.
“Behind a heavily guarded gate here, workers file into a sandstone building that is so nondescript it does not even have a name… Deep inside this building workers are quietly making what may be the nation’s hottest consumer product: those ubiquitous, oblong Cipro pills being heavily prescribed against anthrax.”
The article quotes workers like Mike, a 31-year- old technician: “I’ve always been proud of what I do,” he says. “But in the past few weeks, I’ve never been more proud to tell people what I do.”
Meanwhile, in West Haven, Bayer is kicking off an employee communications initiative—Bayer Cares—designed to celebrate its work on Cipro.
“I told our people they made a difference not just to the physical health of America, but to the emotional and psychological health of America,” says Wehmeier. “I told them they were standing there in the proud tradition of Rosie the Riveter and the folks who put together the Sikorsky helicopters in Bridgeport to defend democracy in Korea.”

November 5
Investor’s Business Daily discusses the criticism of Bayer. “What terrible thing did the pharmaceutical company do? It developed an effective drug called Cipro? Therefore it left our government with no choice but to bully the company into discounting the price of the drug it sells to the feds by about half, which was already less than half its wholesale price. By so doing… the U.S. has opened a Pandora’s box that will haunt us long after the anthrax scare has passed.”
By now, the tone of the media coverage is overwhelmingly positive toward the company.
“There were a lot of editorials that were pro-Bayer,” says Taufield. “There were great articles in the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. There was a great article in the New Yorker, “No Profit No Cure” that made the case for parent laws. There was another great article in Investor’s Business Daily. We got a lot of support from the media.”

November 6  
“After a few rough days, Bayer has now calmed fears as to whether it is able to manufacture enough of the drug if the outbreak worsens,” writes Adrian Michaels in the Financial Times.

November 7  
In New York, the Bayer PR team holds editorial roundtable meetings with both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, while Wehmeier prepares to address a Fortune magazine conference on leadership, where he shares a platform with New York Yankees manager Joe Torre and others. Wehmeier’s speech is greeted with what The New York Times describes as “solid applause.” During the question and answer period that follows, the executives in attendance praise Bayer’s patriotism, its ethics, and its commitment to doing the right thing.
Wehmeier feels vindicated. “The last thing we wanted to do was look as if we were exploiting the situation,” he says. “We avoided that. We believe that in the end we enhanced the trust in the drug, and we greatly invigorated our people, who felt enormous pride that they were doing something that really made a difference.”
Ryan, too, believes the company’s strategy was ultimately successful.
“We felt that if we stayed the course, and if we were true to our relationships with the government, with our wholesalers, with the chain drug stores, with our employees, we would be rewarded,” says Ryan. “And if you look at today’s coverage, I would say we have been rewarded for staying the course, for doing the right thing.”

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