Clorox Whiffs On Conversational ...


I will get to Clorox in a minute.

Allow me to set the stage.

President Trump set a new bar for weirdness (polite way of saying “stupidity”) during last Thursday’s White House briefing on the novel coronavirus suggesting people grab a mug of their favorite disinfectant to fight the pandemic. His words:

“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

For Americans who still consider Trump “the all-knowing master of the universe,” the major makers of disinfectants put out statements reminding folks that they are not in the medicine business.

Which brings us to Clorox and how they communicated the correction to the outside world:

Bleach and other disinfectants are not suitable for consumption or injection under any circumstances. People should always read the label for proper usage instructions.

Disinfecting surfaces with bleach and other disinfecting products is one of the ways to help stop the spread of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Our products are safe when used properly. It’s critical that everyone understands the facts in order to keep themselves safe and healthy, which is why we continue to educate people about how to use disinfectants safely and effectively against COVID-19.

Where’s the conversational language in the opening line? “Not suitable for consumption?”

How about a simple, “Do not eat bleach or any other disinfecting product.”

As for the rest of the statement, I had no problem with the company putting in a plug that its products fight the spread of COVID-19.

While not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, when 3M came under fire earlier this month from President Trump who said, “the company isn’t doing enough” to make the N95 masks, the company delivered a perfect response. 3M’s narrative states its case with a combination of logic, emotions and facts, underpinned by conversational language.

Update (April 28, 2020)

Wired ran a doozy of a story that kicks off

These are strange times, when the hashtag #DontDrinkBleach trends on Twitter and the makers of Lysol feel compelled to respond to “recent speculation and social media activity” by putting up a statement that “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion, or any other route).” It’s easy to laugh, as many have, about President Donald Trump’s musing about killing the virus that causes Covid-19 by ingesting disinfectant or somehow shining UV light inside the human body. Yet medical professionals at poison control centers around the country aren’t amused.

You can read the rest of the story “Here’s What Disinfectants and UV Light Really Do to Your Body” here.


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