Charles Young

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Joining a company that he believed was fundamentally strong but in the news for all the wrong reasons, Charles Young, senior VP marketing and communications for Tyco International Corp., set out two years ago to restore the company's credibility with employees, opinion leaders and customers.

Unlike other tainted corporations such as Enron, Arthur Andersen and WorldCom, both Tyco's name and business survived. But other than the well reported details of former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski's largesse, such as the infamous $6,000 shower curtain, the public knew little about Tyco.

Young's three-pronged approach was to better define the company-people either knew of Tyco because of the scandal or thought it was a toymaker and personalize Tyco to each of its audiences.

"A big part of this challenge was not that we had a bad company," Young said during a June broadcast of "Princeton Business Today," a radio program in Princeton, N.J., where Tyco is based. "It was that many people didn't know us for the right reasons, and they knew us for the wrong reasons. We invested significant effort in just telling the story of what is the real Tyco. We've doing vital things all around the world."

The corporate image campaign that emerged, created by Hill Holliday, didn't offer any apologies for ex-executives' misdeeds. Rather, internal communications stressed the strength of the underlying business and a print ad in publications such as The Wall Street Journal touted the arrival of many Fortune 500 executives who, like Young, believed in Tyco.

Then came the "Vital" campaign, first launched in full-page print ads in national publications in summer 2004 and followed by TV spots in December. Two new commercials, in the same vein as the first batch, were added in May. One focused on Tyco fire and security products, such as fire alarm control systems that are in place in some of the world's tallest buildings. Another commercial, spotlighting Tyco's healt care division, showed how Tyco products help keep premature babies healthy. The spots all end with voice-over saying Tyco's products aren't just important but "a vital part of your world."

"Tyco was not an extremely well-defined brand before [the corporate corruption scandal] happened," said Mark Coopersmith, president of strategy for Addis Group. "The two clear challenges they had were putting the recent challenges behind them and really crafting a rich brand identity for the brand going forward."

Young joined Tyco in July 2003 after 15 years at General Electric Co., where he had most recently been general manager of global marketing for GE Medical Systems, its healthcare division. He began his career as a public relations consultant with Masto & Associates, New York.

-Mary Ellen Podmolik

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