Life After Toxic Tub

MeganOutLOUD    June 13, 2014



“Johnson & Johnson is an American multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturer founded in 1886” from Wikipedia

Case Study:

Very few corporate brands can boast longevity and achievement comparable to that of Johnson & Johnson’s. The company whose products can be found in medicine cabinets and bathroom vanities around the world has survived two World Wars, famine, The Great Depression and a number of social evolutions.

Take a look at how the healthcare industry giant has carefully managed it’s evolving relationship with the public and it becomes pretty clear as to the reasons for the Fortune 500 alumni’s success and continued survival.

Following the release of the independent research initiative titled “Toxic Tub” headed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which found trace amounts of the chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane among popular products like Johnson’s ‘No More tears’ Baby Shampoo; the Fortune 500 company was met with the difficult task of managing a public relations crisis while dealing with a shifting consumer mentality. One that demanded corporate responsibility and transparency but also one that had immediate access to information, (quality and otherwise); resulting in the corporate giant having to undergo an extensive strategy overhaul.


James Wood Johnson, founder of the Johnson & Johnson company 1886

Initially remaining somewhat silent in response to the independent study dubbed the “Toxic Tub Report” a whole 2 1/2 years would pass before the company finally appeared to succumb to mounting public pressure, outlining the steps it had taken and was taking to insure public safety and reassurance in this open letter, dated October 31, 2011.  Johnson & Johnson’s letter was an apparent response to  this letter, dated the same day and put together by the Campaign for Safer Cosmetics along with health care professionals  and several advocacy groups.

As seen in the above corporate PSA, Zephanie Jordan, VP of Global Regulatory Affairs makes it very clear that by Johnson & Johnson’s agreeing to reformulate their products they were not admitting to guilt but rather demonstrating the company’s 100% commitment to answering to it’s consumers concerns. An obvious message carefully crafted within a well thought out communications strategy which saw the introduction of the newl branding campaign J&J has seen in over ten years.

It became obvious that in order to reclaim the image that had won the company distinct honours like being the first company ever to receive the Benjamin Franklin award  for Public Diplomacy in 2005; J&J would need to embrace the very elements that participated in knocking the corporate beast from its pedestal in the first place. Adhering to the following strategy techniques, J&J has seen a significant increase in activity across all of it’s online channels; you too can apply these same techniques to encourage quality engagement with your online visitors!

Tips to Adapt to Changing Consumer Expectations & Develop a Thriving Online Presence

  • Be consistently active on social media, plan on posting relevant content regularly (average 4-6 times a week)
  • Provide fresh and interesting content across all of your social media channels. The more original your content the greater the impact on your SEO ranking
  • Cross promote on relative social media channels to drive traffic to your website, a social media campaign etc., Avoid setting up automated cross promotion (having every Facebook post appear on Twitter and vice versa
  • encourage consumer engagement through the use of  call to actions, asking open ended questions and providing quality content worth sharing
  • Contribute to a corporate blog, planning content ahead of time to coincide with promotions, upcoming events etc.,
  • Develop comprehensive brand identity campaigns to further strengthen your brand, deepen consumer loyalty and widen your overall reach
  • Provide your customers with easy access to contact information, product information, and at all costs be one step ahead of any issues that could arise concerning product quality, service quality

See J&J’s newly launched “For All That You Love”, the first corporate branding campaign in over a decade. What messages are Johnson & Johnson hoping to relay to their target markets through the use of these series of web videos?

“Join us on a journey to discover how love has such
a profound impact on those we care about most. We’ll explore evidence and anecdote, science and story. And together, find out how love works.” From the campaign slogan featured on the #HowLoveWorks website

Johnson & Johnson’s has been through the depths and back in recent years. But the way with which the century old institution has managed to gain traction and deliver consumers with access to quality content aimed at developing consumer engagement all while maintaining a level of transparency and corporate responsibility is something that should be respected and admired. Many had written off Johnson’s hold on household products and some had even begun to suspect that perhaps J&J had lost touch with the needs and mentality of their target market. But as this case study has clearly demonstrated; the sleeping giant was simply planning it’s next, perfect move. They were arming their people with the tools they needed to deliver an outstanding and forward thinking social media campaign. I am very much looking forward to the results that come from this well thought out demonstration of online communications and inbound marketing.

Check out the following links for more of J&J’s ongoing projects and resources:

J&J respond to the open letter in 2011 given to them by concerned parents and healthcare advocates demanding they take action to remove concerning chemicals form their North American baby products

The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics– their independent research initiative blew the whistle on corporate irresponsibility and shed light on toxic chemicals found in various bath products for children

J&J Corporate Website

The Campaign for Nursing’s Future– A campaign started in 2003, J&J takes pride in supporting the very professionals whom use their products on a day to day.

Care Grows– A collection of crowdfunding projects that have been gathered by J&J. Possibile matched donations for the charity of your choice

J&J Youtube Channel

ForAllYouLove– the first corporate branding campaign in over a decade draws focus to J&J’s rich history and commitment to serving families on a personal level

#HowLoveWorks– The current social media campaigns happening right now in tandem with “ForAllYouLove”

The Kilmer House– J&J’s museum of brand related artifacts, covering items like original BandAID tins, dressings, photos etc., the big brand is looking for any information or access to Johnson & Johnson antiquities. See the website for more details

Safety Care and Commitment– a website launched in an effort to provide factual and J&J approved information after the release of the Toxic Tub findings. Information about products, formulas, current issues happening in the news… a place to get answers

List of Awards presented to J&J

Submitted By:

Megan Clark of Outloud Inbound Marketing and Online Communications

Created for the SMBP

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