SCJohnson Brand Effort Aims To Edge Out Public Rivals

CEO Says 'Family Company' Image Gives It Consumer Trust Advantage

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SCJohnson is launching its most comprehensive corporate-branding campaign ever, a $20 million-to-$30 million effort that includes everything from its first corporate-brand TV ads in four years to offering 3,000 free plane tickets to help reuinite families for Thanksgiving.

The goal is to drive home like never before that SCJ is a family-owned company, without all the problems associated with being publicly held like the vast majority of its competitors.

"As a private family company, we believe we are different and we are proud of that difference," said SCJ Chairman-CEO Fisk Johnson in an interview. "We hold ourselves to a higher standard. We work hard at nurturing a culture of caring and doing the right thing for the long term. One of the reasons we're able to do that is, as a private company, we don't need to worry about next quarter's earnings or what Wall Street analysts say or whether an activist is going to come after us."

Mr. Johnson said he doesn't get involved in decisions on most brand advertising or marketing efforts, but it's a different story when it's the corporate brand.

"We have our family name on the company, and honestly if I do something that messes up the reputation of this company, I can't look my family in the eye for the rest of my life," he said. "That gives me a big incentive to really work hard at doing the right thing."

The campaign tagline: "Making life better for the next generation in ways only a family company can."

One of the first ads, "Great Expectations," breaks Monday on TV, with a Spanish-language version following Oct. 25. A second Thanksgiving-themed spot, "Through the Years," breaks Nov. 1 in cinemas and Nov. 8 on TV.

Over the next five months, the campaign will encompass digital, PR, social media, shopper marketing, and a partnership with Univision's reality show "La Banda." Omnicom's Energy BBDO, PHD and TracyLocke; WPP's Geometry Global, and independent Edelman are all involved.

One of the things Mr. Johnson said he's most looking forward to is traveling with his family to the U.S. naval base in Norfolk, Va., for Thanksgiving to "treat the Navy team to a Thanksgiving dinner and fly their family members to join us." A promotion aims to pay the air fare of another 3,000 people to visit family members they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford to reach over Thanksgiving by giving away $1,000 Visa gift cards.

The company has included its prominent "SCJohnson, a family company" tag on ads for such brands as Windex, Ziploc, Pledge and for years, but the new effort aims to drive the point home further.

"We know that when people know we're a family company that their trust and purchase interest in our products always goes up," Mr. Johnson said. That was discovered in research his sister, Helen Johnson-Leipold did years ago, he said, and reinforced by findings in the Edelman Trust Survey that family companies are trusted more.

"My aspiration, honestly, is to be the most-trusted company in our industry," Mr. Johnson said. "What we want is when people see Windex they know it's an SCJohnson product, and they know it's a family company."

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