When Johnson & Johnson launched the Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask in October, it developed a "digital first" campaign by necessity.
Not only was the target primarily teen girls, but the product required extensive education that was hard to do anywhere else.
That meant more marketing-tech support than usual, ultimately drawing on more than 20 internal systems or external service providers.
The first piece of tech was the mask itself. J&J's venture fund invested $20 million in startup La Lumiere in 2014, then bought the company last year. Priced under $40, the mask is unlike what Neutrogena is used to selling. It's a durable good (albeit with monthly activator refills) that takes added explaining. And while it's a medical device in a company with a division selling lots of those, it's meant for home use, not surgical implantation.
"It comes with a lot of new territory by its very nature," said Neutrogena Acne Senior Brand Manager Simon Geraghty. In taking light therapy out of the dermatologist's office for affordable home use, Neutrogena had potentially a big hit, but a complicated one. "Consumers thought the mask was scary, weird and intimidating," Geraghty said. "There were a lot of storm trooper comments. Consumers were really skeptical that light could treat acne."
So Neutrogena came up with a strategy that put the concept of "light" at the center of the marketing. "Second, we really embraced the weird instead of running away from it," he said, with spokesmodel Olivia Holt addressing the issue head-on in videos. "Once people tried it on, the first thing they wanted to do was take a selfie," he said.
Google BrandLab, a support service fueled by analytics of YouTube and other Google properties and available to the tech giant's biggest global advertisers, was crucial to developing the strategy around the launch, which used YouTube heavily in the early going. BrandLab worked with the agency team that included Omnicom's Roberts & Langer DDB, Interpublic's client-dedicated J3 media unit, Publicis Groupe's SapientRazorfish on digital, Deep Focus for content strategy and development, and RPR Public Relations.
Google BrandLab helped Neutrogena target online influencers for prelaunch buzz building, a major departure from the closed events for beauty editors that was once the norm for launches, Geraghty said. BrandLab helped Neutrogena identify YouTube creators who appealed to its target audience, not just the conventional beauty blogger but also in entertainment or other areas. "They helped identify what were some of the things [Neutrogena's target] is interested in other than acne," he said.
BrandLab also helped the brand "go from thinking about a 30-second commercial to 'How do we communicate in five or six seconds?'" he said, but also with an eye toward spurring engagement that would get people to dwell on longer-form content that explained the product.
While Neutrogena used in-person ethnography and consumer interviews, much of the prelaunch research for concepts and marketing strategy was conducted through J&J's online Teen Panel community.
Digital analytics and data science firm Cardinal Path helped Neutrogena develop a framework of key performance indicators for its digital plans and then optimize them.
Nielsen Marketing Cloud manages data behind programmatic buying.
Neutrogena uses a proprietary J&J data exchange called the Hive to plan, coordinate and archive its custom consumer and business intelligence.
The early part of the campaign focused on YouTube, with programmatic buying through the platform, Geraghty said. Targeting and retargeting focused in part on telling prospective customers a story in a logical sequence, working from general awareness to more details on how the product works.
J3, which handles media buying and planning for Neutrogena and other J&J consumer brands, handled programmatic buying on platforms outside YouTube, working with IPG's in-house Cadreon ad tech unit.
Neutrogena leaned on J3's Business Analytics Engine and marketing-mix modeling to monitor effectiveness across media. J&J is also using Nielsen Catalina Solutions' panel of digital and TV viewers matched to shopper-card sales data to measure sales impact across media. Making attribution easier, Neutrogena did some fairly simple A/B testing by running parts of the campaign discretely—e.g., YouTube, then Facebook and Instagram, other digital placements and TV.
Neutrogena has an internal team monitoring and responding in social media, which is important in part because the mask is a medical device regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. "This is the first time we really felt that social media was driving sales," Geraghty said. And part of that was listening to what people were saying, then addressing their questions or concerns with videos that could provide the answers. Cambrian Analytics, a startup that combines social-listening tools, artificial intelligence technology and "elbow grease" to develop a comprehensive review of social media, ratings, reviews and consumer-care center learning helped here. Neutrogena also relied on ReVuze software to analyze online ratings and reviews in conjunction with Bazaarvoice, which captures and syndicates them.
Neutrogena receives and analyzes direct sales data feeds from six leading national retailers, including Walmart's Retail Link, then relies on Nielsen to provide data on the rest. The proportion of sales for Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask in e-commerce is running eight times higher than what's typical for the brand, Geraghty said, which adds another important data stream. J&J has a proprietary data exchange called Business Panorama that consolidates and analyzes these internal and syndicated data streams and presents them on a dashboard.
An internal team works with an external email platform that J&J declined to identify.
Integral Ad Science primarily handles this, supplemented by an extensive site blacklist maintained by J3 for brand safety. J&J also works directly with "walled gardens" such as Facebook and Google on these issues.
Neutrogena's digital agency SapientRazorfish develops the website, including the e-commerce fulfillment, and analyzes traffic. Ditto the search-engine optimization and management. Search trends are one way Neutrogena ensures the rest of its marketing plan is working. One of the top four Google searches on skincare in January of this year was "light therapy," which also hit No. 2 as a search term in skincare on YouTube, Geraghty said.
J&J developed its own e-commerce content kit—video, product specifications and images included—ultimately tailored to the requirements of players such as Amazon, Target and Ulta.
J&J worked with Cision on this to see which influencers or events worked and "how it pays out to justify it," Geraghty said.
Neutrogena also used Tribe Dynamics. It has an algorithm "to look at the qualitative and quantitative results for each piece of content an influencer creates across their channels and determines the earned media value," J&J PR Manager Erin Wolf Valich said.