J&J celebrates new mothers as China's "unsung heroes"

Digital tops TV as main media focus

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SHANGHAI--Olympic sponsor Johnson & Johnson is focusing on below-the-line marketing like on-the-ground events and the internet to expand its Johnson’s Baby products in the mainland ahead of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing next summer.

“For our baby care line, digital marketing plays an important role. It has not been the habit for parents in China to look online for information in the past; they usually go to their own parents and doctors. But that’s changing among young, new parents these days, the internet is becoming a good way to educate them about baby care,” said Portia Chen, a senior brand manager for Johnson & Johnson’s baby care products in Shanghai.

There is “a lot of pressure on moms in China,” because of the country’s one-child policy, which turns young Chinese into a focal point for the whole family. “There is no second chance for parents, so there’s a lot riding on kids’ development,” said Ms. Chen.

While digital programs are “easy to execute, the coverage isn’t as wide as traditional media,” she added, so the company is also using TV and other above-the-line media in China, as well as point-of-sale and in-store marketing. Lowe Worldwide oversees creative for Johnson’s baby products in China, and OMD handled the media business. “But everything leads to our web site," called Johnson Baby’s Sleep World www.babysleep.com.cn.

The new digital initiative launched last month is the second phase of a program designed to promote Johnson’s three-step system to help babies sleep better, which was introduced in China last June. The company developed the system, a nightly bathe-and-massage routine, after deducing sleep has a direct impact on a baby's growth, brain development and overall well being. (See “ J&J launches BabyCenter,” AdAgeChina, June 13, 2007)

The second phase, which will run through the end of November, expands the promotion to include toddlers up to three years old rather than just newborns, and includes more interactivity with mothers. Johnson & Johnson has selected over 30 new mothers in first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing as “mom ambassadors,” who will become community leaders connected through the company’s web site. By next year, the company hopes to have more than 200 women in its network.

“It gives mothers the tools to organize play dates, parties and other events on their own, instead of Johnson & Johnson organizing road shows which are expensive to create,” said Magdalena Wszelaki, Shanghai-based regional VP, strategic planning at Agenda, the interactive agency that created the campaign.

For some of the parties organized through the site's community section, Johnson will turn up with a gift hamper with a branded blanket, toys and puppets, game ideas for children and Johnson Baby products. J&J is using the site to promote the ambassador program with short documentary films about three of the women, which have also been seeded on Chinese video sites like Tudou.com.

Johnson’s Chinese web site also offers parents Baobao, an internet radio show that runs programs like Myth-busters, in which Dr. Sleep answers e-mail questions from mothers that dispel common myths. A step-by-step guide explains Johnson’s three-step baby sleep system to mothers in real time.

The company also brings the mom ambassadors into the studio to talk about the problems they face and lets them debate popular topics related to childcare. The site’s bulletin board section lets mothers meet online to organize events and share experiences and advice online.

The digital program is tied into Johnson’s overall Olympic program “Golden care, golden mom,” which connects the games to “new mothers, who are heroes for future champions,” said Jeffrey Jin, Johnson’s senior brand manager for Olympics in Shanghai. A TV spot launched earlier this year celebrating Chinese mothers as "Unsung heroes," created by Lowe, won a silver award at a local Effies awards show last month in Qingdao in eastern China.

Johnson has launched a photo competition in China through a co-promotion with another Olympic sponsor, Kodak, in which people submitted photos of mothers bonding with their babies.

The photos, which "convey the message that a mother’s love is nurturing future champions,” according to Mr. Jin, can be submitted at Kodak stores in China. Johnson is assembling an album with more than 40,000 pictures; the collection is expected to set a Guinness record as the world’s largest photo album when it is finished in August 2008, at the start of the Olympic Games.

Johnson & Johnson has also worked with McDonald’s, co-sponsoring through its Band-Aid brand an Olympic run organized by the fast food giant in June 2007 in Beijing. J&J's baby care division sponsors Ge Fei, a gold medal-winning Chinese female badminton player who took part in the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games.
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