Johnson & Johnson Hopes ‘Love’ Campaign Will Restore Trust in Troubled Brand


It hasn’t been a great couple of years for Johnson & Johnson. Since 2009, “faulty manufacturing” caused J&J to “recall millions of bottles and packages of Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin and other over-the-counter medicines,” NBC News reports. While that was happening, pharmacies were starting to push their own private labels.

It got so bad that this past winter, CVS didn’t even stock Tylenol at a number of its stores. That isn’t all. The company is facing over 10,000 lawsuits regarding the alleged failure of its Depuy metal-on-metal hip transplants, and it just got done paying $181 million in settlements over off-label marketing of its antipsychotic drug, Risperdal, Ad Age notes.

As Mad Men’s Don Draper says, if you don’t like what people are saying, you change the conversation. So J&J is going all-in on a rebrand, putting up to $30 million into a play-to-the-heartstrings Band-Aid of a campaign called “For All You Love.”[more]

Michael Sneed, VP-Global Corporate Affairs at J&J, told Ad Age that the new campaign wasn’t going to just “paper over” all of J&J’s recent troubles. “I would say that it is a campaign that emphasizes our strategy for reconnecting with consumers when our business is really taking measurable strides to overcome the past challenges,” he said. “We want to make sure people think of J&J as a long-term provider of health care, as a company that’s going to be there day in and day out. While we’re still considered among the best, there’s nothing wrong with being the best. And we want to make sure we get back to that.”

This is the company’s first corporate-branding campaign in a decade and its first global one ever, Forbes reports. One wonders just how much it was needed. It’s not as if all the bad news has hurt J&J that much. Its stock has gone up more than 30 percent in the last year and, Ad Age notes, when “some Motrin and Tylenol products returned to shelves last year, sales soared.” The company did drop down to being the sixth most reputable company in America, according to The Reputation Institute. It was third last year, but it seems like it’ll take a lot more damage to put a dent into this brand. 

Despite what seems to be a resilient attitude among customers and investors, J&J runs the risk of reminding customers of all its faults with the new campaign. “There’s always going to be a section of people who are very jaded whenever they see these types of campaigns,” Sneed told Ad Age. “And in some regards they should be if they believe the companies aren’t really trying to live up to what they’re saying. I don’t think that’s the case with J&J. The other side of it is in today’s environment, where you have a lot of people telling your story, you have to also be in there telling your story and having that conversation.”

Let’s hope Sneed and his team at J&J have a few others tactics up its sleeve, as the bad news seems to keep rolling in. News came last week that J&J’s license to make cosmetics at a plant outside Mumbai has been revoked because the company “had used an unauthorized process for sterilizing its baby powder,” reports. J&J was in conversations with regulators there to get things going again.

Below, more from J&J’s new campaign with an introduction by chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky at the company’s recent annual shareholders meeting: