Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson HOF Speech
If you have a home and a family, take showers, give your baby baths or occasionally get a headache, chances are you've used one of Johnson & Johnson's many brands, and that you've seen that brand advertised on one of your favorite TV shows. The health-care and consumer packaged goods giant is 125 years old, and over that century and a quarter it has helped build television into the medium it is today, advertising household staples such as Aveeno, Band-Aid, Johnson's Baby, Listerine, Neutrogena, Splenda and many, many more. And who doesn't know the words to the "I Am Stuck on Band-Aid Brand" song by heart?
"Johnson & Johnson adopted and embraced television advertising early on, and it certainly was instrumental in helping us build the iconic baby brand and â€˜No More Tears,' which is what most people still know us for today. That's helped us build brands over the years like Tylenol and Neutrogena, which have been around for decades," says Brian Perkins, J&J's vice president of corporate affairs, who will be leaving the company after 31 years in February.
The brand building goes hand in hand with the company's exalted current position in the industry. Johnson & Johnson is one of the country's top-10 TV advertisers, annually spending nearly $1 billion on network and cable TV, according to Kantar Media.
But beyond figures, J&J's true specialty throughout its TV history has come through this connection and builtin trust with its consumers, along with the company's ability to promote its brands-many of which are used by people as they go about some of their most intimate daily tasks.
"J&J believes in the brand equity of J&J, which is synonymous with excellence, care, technology and value," says Paul Caine, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Time Inc., overseeing brands such as People, InStyle, Time, Health, Fortune, Real Simple and Sports Illustrated, many of which target women and caretakers. "Not many companies take their corporate equity as seriously. J&J really want their media to be as personally connected to the consumer as they are."
One important way that J&J tried to create an opportunity to make that connection was by developing the Family Friendly Programming Forum in 1998. The forum, which was launched in conjunction with Procter & Gamble (one of last year's Hall of Fame inductees), contributed money to a script-development fund that TV networks could use to develop series based on family-focused story lines.
The idea was to create programming in which the companies felt absolutely comfortable placing their brands, much like the work that J&J does with Tim Inc. today across print and digital media.
That fund helped create programs such as The WB's Gilmore Girls, The CW's Everybody Hates Chris and NBC and DirecTV's Emmy-winning Friday Night Lights. In 2008, the forum changed its name to the Association of National Advertisers' (or ANA, of which Perkins is a leader) Alliance for Familiar Entertainment. The Alliance now targets new and emerging family entertainment choices across digital and social media platforms as well as TV networks.
"The media landscape has changed radically, but television is still the major element of our media buys," says Perkins. "If we are going to build big brands that require a mass audience, television remains the best place to do that. But obviously, breakthroughs in digital technology, mobile and search have forever altered the way we do business."
Five years ago, J&J made the decision to stop participating in the television upfronts, a decision that impacted the industry but didn't seem to set a trend. Today, J&J remains a bit of a maverick, sticking to its year-round buying plan that more closely matches up its budgetary plans to its goals.
"When J&J left the upfronts, that was a big deal. They wanted to align their planning cycle to their buying cycle, and ultimately that was a smart move for them," says Marianne Gambelli, president of NBC Network Advertising Sales, which works with J&J on campaigns that target demographics via Women@NBCU or Hispanics@NBCU. "J&J understands the idea of partnership. They certainly want to get the best for their money, but they also understand how to work to create win-win situations so you want to work with them again."
J&J's history also includes a chapter of unwelcome experience in brand loyalty, and making sure people want to work with them again-specifically, the Tylenol tampering cases of 1982 and 1986. In '82, seven people in the Chicago area died after taking Tylenol capsules that were laced with cyanide. But the company, which didn't even have much of a public-relations operation at the time, responded swiftly and decisively to the crisis, recalling 31 million bottles of Tylenol at a cost of $100 million and instituting tamper-proof packaging. Even today, J&J's handling of the incident, and a much smaller one four years later, is held up as a model of professional crisis management.
"That incident demonstrated the strength of J&J's credo, which is essentially the responsibility to do the right thing in terms of the customers, the employees, the communities where they work and live, and the stockholders," says John Wren, CEO of Omnicom Group Inc. "J&J went straight to that credo and decided, â€˜Let's do what we say.' Not all companies that have a credo actually look to it in times of trouble. J&J did.
Perkins, who was Tylenol's brand manager at the time, says the crisis caused the company to "open the kimono and invite the press in. We went on this journey together, and it was one of those rare instances where people worked together for a common goal.
"That event absolutely changed the company," he continues. "At the time, we were very much the same kind of company that we are today. But in other respects, we were a much quieter company that didn't do a lot of proactive public relations."
The swift action is hardly a surprise: Across the board, J&J has been an industry leader, making decisions that have not only been right for the company but for the entire advertising industry, according to several executives.
"I think J&J has a strong philosophy, a strong strategy and a strong vision, and I think they're implementing it in a seamless way that capitalizes on all the opportunities that are there," says Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Group, the world's largest advertising group. "I think they've been innovative in keeping up with consumers and the changes in media consumption habits."
Looking forward, Perkins knows that J&J has a lot to tackle with all the new technologies in front of it: "There are so many better ways to reach consumers and engage with them today," he says. "So much is new and so much is changing. Television is still incredibly important, but we can't use it in the same way we once did.
"Every time I say to myself, â€˜I think we are getting this' or â€˜I think we are there,' the next day I wake up and say, â€˜Why didn't we think of this?'" adds Perkins. "It's about always staying on the learning curve, always being humble and always pushing." --Paige Albiniak