J&J’s Digital Priorities for 2012

Johnson & Johnson’s digital priorities for 2012 are social media and mobile, said Kimberly Kadlec, worldwide president of the global marketing group at the company, who spoke at the IAB Innovation Days conference in New York.

The global company, which houses brands like Aveeno, Neutrogena, Rogaine, Band-Aid and Listerine, has a long history connecting with consumers in personal and emotional ways. It is focusing its efforts in 2012 to figure out how to translate that into the digital space.

“Social is a big priority for us,” Kadlec said. “We are trying to figure out ways of getting into the conversation. Some of [our] brands are way ahead and others are still exploring. What we have learned is that your metric can’t be how many people like you. It is about what behavior and mindset you are trying to change or influence. It is about setting a goal for what you are trying to accomplish and mining the data to see that you’ve accomplished it.”

J&J is a giant ad spender. According to Kantar Media, J&J’s ad spending tops $1 billion. (Those figures are from 2010.)

Currently, J&J has a presence on Facebook and Twitter and is using these platforms to listen to consumers and also to provide them with relevant information on healthcare and other brand-relevant topics like skincare, babycare and such. The main idea is educational information around these topics. Kadlec said that her company’s mission in social is for each of the J&J brands to have their own personality. The company even conducts exercises internally to ensure that this is the case. For example, J&J did an experiment just last week with employees, where it served messages to employees from some of its skincare brands. Employees were not able to see which brand a message belonged to. They would have to guess which brand is saying what.

Kadlec also said that J&J’s global presence makes mobile an important digital channel for the company. In emerging markets especially, the company targets consumers in a below-the-line fashion. For example, its communications to expecting moms in emerging markets via mobile is very specific and targeted.

“We take a very strategic, educational approach to mobile in emerging markets, where consumer access to the Web relies heavily on mobile devices,” Kadlec said. “Then in places like the U.S., where there are so many screens to consider, we’ll use mobile for more promotional stuff.”

From mobile apps, to text-message campaigns, mobile advertising initiatives and mobile websites, J&J has a full mobile strategy and will focus on refining it in 2012, learning from what’s not working and ramping up investment in what is. Kadlec suggested that brands commoditize what they can, meaning if you can automate and activate something, that’s not a bad thing. She said commoditizing some aspect of marketing will leave you with more manpower and brain power to focus on other things.

With all of its mobile efforts, J&J aims to hit a cord, while also adding value to consumers through educational information. The company focuses on messaging that will resonate well and that is built on a clear business strategy and objective. Kadlec urged that it isn’t just about the screens. It is about figuring out ways to make the brand seem alive, almost human, and then figuring out the proper screens to do so.

“I spend a lot of time in emerging markets,” Kadlec said. “Our use of mobile in these communities is about educating people and improving their lives. I mean, you should see some of these places. People live in homes that you can’t even conjure up in your minds. To be able to provide expecting mothers with prenatal advice, makes me realize what an amazing new world we live in.”

Kadlec also talked a lot about marketing innovation in Latin America, and that every marketer can learn something from the Latin American market. She said Latin America comes out with the best ideas and some of the most amazing experiences.

There are a couple of areas that Kadlec said present J&J with both opportunities and barriers. The first is understanding the consumer. This is an opportunity for obvious reasons. But it is also a barrier in that consumer behavior is constantly changing, turning the job of understanding them into a 24-7 task.

The second area Kadlec talked about was data. She said, “There’s so much data, and not an insight in sight,” and then encouraged marketers to be more disciplined in how they use data. Her advice was to figure out what you are measuring and measure consistently to develop benchmarks. Another area that is both an opportunity and a barrier is nurturing the talent pool, which has recently been a topic of conversation by a lot of brands and agencies. Digital natives are at our door, interviewing for jobs, and senior management needs to start behaving differently in this new world. The senior managers need to nurture the talent pool, she said.

The future is coming, its not optional,” Kadlec said. “We have to start thinking about things differently. For example, on-demand is coming. It is not a new idea. Marketing people need to get comfortable with what that may look like. Figure out now how to support a model like this, so there is still room for marketers in content consumption.”


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