Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another CPC Launches New Product Online

One point of yesterday’s post was corporations doing well by doing good. A recent article in Ad Age (subscription required) highlights another example that takes a more controlled, corporate-focused tack, but still engages in cause marketing.

Johnson’s® adult body care line is not new, but apparently they have reformulated the line with aromatherapy and maybe other elements. So perhaps it’s a relaunch, but it’s definitely starting in social media. After the social media program is established they’ll support it with print and digital advertising (no TV mentioned); that may be more for the baby products contest (more below) than for the adult skin care line. The hub of the program is a MySpace page, chosen for its entertainment and beauty issues value.

Ashanti is the spokesperson for the campaign. She launched the “cause parties" with a party to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem, with which Ashanti has a personal relationship. The idea of the cause parties is to allow women to host parties in support of a cause of their choice with Johnson’s® providing body care products. Johnson’s® made a $10,000 donation to Ashanti’s chosen cause to get the campaign started, and there was a lot of buzz in the online beauty and music world so that part worked.

In fact, the nature and content of the buzz supports their choice of spokesperson and strategy. Ashanti seems to be a permanent resident of MySpace, and the comments on beauty blog postings I read were all about the party, the dresses, the celebs. I didn’t see a thing about Johnson’s® body products, but I suspect they were pleased with the attention given to the initial party.

They have reached out to bloggers associated with Mom Central to promote the program. A second party is already scheduled. Latoicha Givens, the author of Luxe Tips, will give a party in Atlanta on April 19 to raise money for CARE’s Women Empowerment Initiative. There’s obviously cross-promotion between the beauty blog and the body care product line. Johnson’s®, Ms. Givens’ blog, and CARE will all benefit. A win-win-win!

In fact, the campaign seems to be quite woman-friendly. According to Ad Age the “program looks to let women who may be out of work remain active by volunteering for causes important to them and enable working women to help out charities whose coffers have been depleted by the recession.”

The campaign is not without detractors. One of the commenters on the Ad Age article said, “Great brands like Johnson & Johnson shouldn't be climbing on borrowed-interest bandwagons so obviously insincerely. It makes products women have always trusted to most--J&J Baby Stuff [a separate program on YouTube happening simultaneously]--seem shallow and suspect.” I’d peg that as another “just doesn’t get it,” whether we’re talking about moms entering videos of their babies in a contest or women hosting parties to benefit causes they care about. What’s not to like?

It seems to me that Johnson’s® has it right. According to Rich Hildebrandt, group product director-new ventures for Johnson’s® , ”the goal of both programs is to deepen engagement rather than reach a maximum number of people.” He wouldn’t say how much they are spending, but it has to be less (probably a lot less!) than a traditional television launch. And the body care program has the halo effect of women they have identified as influential bloggers and of the meaningful causes they support.

Their alternative was intrusive, expensive mass media advertising. I like their choice. What do you think?


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