J&J Looks to Bond with Parents Online

Discussion
Feb 13, 2008

By George Anderson

Johnson & Johnson is not following the usual script of running print ads and television commercials with its new ad campaign for the company’s Baby Lotion. Instead, the company has created something new in both tone and media delivery that it believes will help it bond with a whole new generation of parents and their babies.

J&J’s different approach has taken it beyond just producing 30-second spots for television to longer-form cartoons to run on the company’s “Touching Bond” website. J&J will seek to channel traffic to www.touchingbond.com with ads running
online on its own “Baby Center” network of sites along with others catering to parents of infants and toddlers. The company is putting a greater emphasis on web communications believing that today’s parents are gravitating to information and entertainment on the web instead of traditional media outlets.

The tone of J&J’s spots also sets it apart, according to a Wall Street Journal report. While commercials for products in the category tend to play up the medicinal benefits of baby lotion, the J&J ads emphasize the bond between mother and child in the act of massaging the baby.

J&J’s new campaign carries with it some risks, according to The Journal. The company current holds almost a 50 percent market share of the baby care category but competitors including Baby Magic (Ascendia Brands), and Huggies (Kimberly-Clark) are making concerted pushes to grow their businesses. Taking a different approach, if it doesn’t work, could provide others with an opening to reach parents active in the baby-care category.

While J&J is looking to create some buzz with its web videos, it is not completely abandoning television. The company plans to run ads in magazines including American Baby and Parents as well as commercials on the Lifetime, Nick@Nite and TLC cable networks.

Discussion Questions: Is J&J’s new approach the right one with today’s parents? How much more or less important has the online component become to marketing consumer packaged goods in the current economic and retailing environment?

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9 Comments on "J&J Looks to Bond with Parents Online"


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Andrew Gaffney
Guest
Andrew Gaffney
14 years 3 months ago

eMarketer recently forecast that online ad spending would double over the next three years, from $0.92 billion last year to $1.81 billion in 2011. This is not surprising considering the relationship-building opportunities that the Web 2.0 world is presenting to these brands.

Five or ten years ago, the only way J&J and P&G could communicate with consumers was really through television ads, store-based offers and focus groups. Now, with social media and content-rich sites like this J&J example, CPG suppliers can position themselves as a trusted resource for information and insights that really build a bond with their target customer base.

The next big question will be whether or not some of these brands start to open a direct sales channel to these consumers. Once a power brand has an online community of several million consumers who are in the cross-hairs of their target demographic, why not allow them to order a new product directly over the web.

Dan Desmarais
Guest
Dan Desmarais
14 years 3 months ago

While J&J needs to market to the mothers via new electronic media, they need to not forget one of the biggest influencers a new mother has–her own mother. Grandma will play a large part is the raising of newborns, particularly with their spending habits.

So go after the new moms with websites and google ads, but remind grandma about the decades of bonding she’s had with your products with ads on the Y&R.

Max Goldberg
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

J&J is doing what more CPG companies should do: engage consumers in multiple ways, on multiple platforms.

Recent studies have shown that more young parents are turning to the Internet to find child and baby care solutions. Engaging consumers in web videos is building the brand. It is one tactic among many that marketers can use to not only reach consumers, but also engage them in a dialogue.

Evan Schuman
Guest
Evan Schuman
14 years 3 months ago

A critical part of this is the site’s focus on new parents who are presumably young consumers, mostly in the late teens to mid-30s. (Yes, there will be slices of consumers beyond those age limits, but I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority will be in that age range.)

That demographic is exceptionally comfortable online and they will likely be looking to online sources they already use (Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc.) to get information, with the Facebook/MySpace for personalized advice and the YouTube-like sites for demos.

J&J’s move makes perfect sense, given that demographic. The article suggests that there is a risk here, but I’m not seeing it. They will continue their TV campaigns so these will be both outreach to those who get more entertainment/information from the Web than TV as well as being an information-rich interactive enhancement to whatever TV campaigns it does.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
14 years 3 months ago
Where’s the hook? WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)? What are the most important questions in the minds of new parents? I guarantee you that it has nothing to do with choosing the best baby lotion. When our children were born in the early 80s, there were widely-viewed videos showing lion mamas shaking their cubs to get them under control. The suggestion was to shake your baby to achieve the same result. This was well before the discovery of Shaken Baby Syndrome, and was widely embraced by concerned parents. Who knew? (We just hung our babies upside down by their heels like piñatas until they became complacent. It’s a joke, folks. Try the corned beef. I’ll be here through Tuesday.) What are the most pressing parental questions? Disposable vs. cotton? How to interpret and then deal with crying? How to share baby duties (doodies)? The idiocy of referring to yourself in the third person when speaking to your children (Daddy loves you vs. I love you)? J&J, despite their considerable experience and expertise in the… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

J&J is smart to use the internet as well as TV to reach new mothers. I’m surprised the campaign didn’t mention free samples and coupons. I am not sure, but I believe that new mothers used to get a goody bag of free samples upon leaving hospital maternity wards. Has this practice gone away?

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
14 years 3 months ago

Kudos to J&J. There is an old saying, “Fish where the fish are.” The young parents who are bonding with their children are used to getting their information online. It is natural for J&J to focus their efforts online, as that is where their target market is residing. There is also further evidence that the Gen X and Gen Y target market sees ads on the Internet as the #1 relevant ad in helping make their choice with respect to CPG products.

J&J, following on the heels of P&G, are shifting more of their dollars online, because that is where they will get the greatest ROI on their marketing spend. Traditional television networks should continue to worry, even if the writer’s strike is over!

David Zahn
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

J&J has correctly surmised that it is not all or nothing when it comes to reaching the consumer. They are going to send media appropriate messages to the shopper/consumer within the context of the media.

Internet will be educational and informational/television will be emotional/print will be a blending of the two/etc. Now, if the message could be brought to the shelf with help or guidance for shopper decision making, it would be a closed loop.

BRAVO to J&J for seeing what others have seen, but then choosing to get out in front of the curve.

Carlos Arámbula
Guest
14 years 3 months ago

Online is the new price of entry for many CPG categories. It should be a component of most categories, since it helps to build and strengthen the bond between consumer and brand.

For a company like J&J, whose products are available from cradle to grave, online marketing aids in building a long term relationship (by utilizing all the elements provide by an online presence) with consumers and graduating them from brand to brand.

The retail environment has never been a static one. It continuously evolves, and economic environments and technology are accelerators to the evolution. Companies that think in terms of “the year after next” will succeed.

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