Monday, April 29, 2013

What $30 Million Can't Buy


Johnson & Johnson is ailing.

In recent years, the company recalled over 280 million packages of its over-the-counter medicines, including medicine cabinet staples like Motrin, children’s Tylenol liquid and Benadryl.  Furthermore, J&J's DePuy Orthopedics division has recalled two of its artificial hips.  Those products are now the focus of more than 10,000 lawsuits.

Trust is everything to a marketer.  But this creed could mean far more to the medical industry, where consumers' sensitivities are elevated in large part to the personal risk and lack of knowledge regarding their problems or the solutions to them.

You don't have to be a M.D. to realize that even a small number of negative headlines can instantly sour public trust in the company and become extremely bad for business.

To rebuild this trust with consumers, Johnson & Johnson recently announced a new corporate branding campaign entitled, For All You Love.  The campaign's headliner is a one minute television ad and in 2013 will cost the company between $20 and $30 million. 

But it's far less clear how this new campaign will be good for business.  Johnson & Johnson can spend every penny it has on emotional ads that tell consumers how much they care, but without actions to support those claims, few will ever believe it.  Every consumer can easily recognize the difference between marketing lip service and a company that truly cares.  So while it's easy to say so, no amount of spending on warm and fuzzy advertising can replicate the real thing.

I recently heard a story about Schering-Plough, the company that makes the over-the-counter allergy medicine Claritin, that's more than three years old.  It cost them almost nothing and yet is more convincing to the degree that they care than any primetime spot aired during American Idol could be.

The Johnson & Johnson campaign needs action behind it.  A couple million dollars can buy a lot of Band-Aids.  Johnson & Johnson could allocate a sliver of their campaign budget to give their iconic Band-Aids to teachers, nurses, soccer coaches and scout leaders - just ask them to sign up online and a box arrives in the mail.  It's a simple but powerful gesture that would reach these influential members of their communities who best personify the ethos of the For All We Love campaign.

And I think a necessary one for Johnson & Johnson's campaign to come alive.   

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