Baby 'halo' saves J&J brand from recalls, legal woes

Has any drugmaker suffered more tarballs to its good name than Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) over the past year? Recalls, lawsuits, government probes, guilty pleas--it's been one negative headline after another. Just today, news outlets reported J&J pleaded guilty in an off-label marketing case involving its heart drug Natrecor, and a Los Angeles jury awarded $48 million in damages to a man who claimed Motrin use caused his severe skin condition.

So, one of the persistent questions has been whether consumers hold all of this against the company. Once J&J's consumer drugs make it back to store shelves, will people buy? Or will they stick to the store brands and competitors they've turned to as J&J sorts through its manufacturing problems?

CEO Bill Weldon (photo) has repeatedly promised J&J will do what's necessary to repair its reputation. But if a Forbes brand-power survey is any indication, Weldon won't have to bother. The magazine and its survey co-sponsors asked 2,500 U.S. consumers about 100 different brands, posing questions about honesty, ethics, quality, transparency and social responsibility. J&J aced it. Those 2,500 consumers put it at the top of the heap.

The magazine said J&J's baby products offer a "halo effect" that encompasses the entire brand. So, if buyers flock back to J&J's children's drugs, Motrin and Tylenol products, and other recalled consumer meds, the company may just have baby powder to thank.

- see the Forbes article