Power Players 2009

J&J's Brian Perkins Is Ad Age's No. 5 Power Player

Marketing Chief Brings Branded Content and Digital Savvy to the Staid Company

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THE POWER: Johnson & Johnson doesn't get the attention such rivals as Procter & Gamble or Unilever do in marketing circles. Its prescription-drug and medical-device businesses loom large and tend to act like J&J's subdued drug business. Yet it consistently ranks among the biggest U.S. marketing spenders and has a long track record of successfully growing consumer brands like Neutrogena, Aveeno, Tylenol and most recently Zyrtec. Led by Brian Perkins, J&J's marketing organization has been among the package-goods industry's most innovative players in branded content and digital marketing.

THE NUMBERS: Such billion-dollar blockbusters as Risperdal, Topamax and more have lost patent protection in recent years, eating into J&J's sales and earnings. But its consumer-products business, with about a third of revenues and more than 90% of the company's consumer-marketing outlay, has continued to grow, albeit only 1% organically in the third quarter. J&J spent $1.3 billion on measured media in 2008. First-half measured media spending rose 17% to $808 million.

THE KEY LIEUTENANTS: VP-Worldwide Media Kim Kadlec has led much of J&J's more innovative -- and controversial -- efforts, such as eschewing the TV upfront and enlisting media companies for creative work. Key decisions for brands remain with executives in the far-flung operating units of the decentralized company.

THE CHALLENGE: Slowing sales in the once unstoppable skin-care business could simply be an outgrowth of the recession or a result of cutbacks in shelf space by Walmart. Or, they could signal that megabrands Neutrogena and Aveeno, like their rivals, bumped against the end of the white-space frontier for brand extensions. J&J faces an uphill fight in oral care against Colgate-Palmolive and P&G and rapidly expanding private-label shares in over-the-counter drugs. Upfront avoidance that looked great a quarter or two ago amid a weak scatter market suddenly looks less appealing.

THE AGENCIES: WPP's JWT made inroads following the 2006 acquisition of Pfizer consumer brands, but Interpublic's Lowe and R/GA, Omnicom Group's DDB and independent Mother also play key roles, as do media shops Universal McCann and Naked.

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