Ms. Bu believes sincerity, not salesmanship, built that social
media connection with mothers. Johnson & Johnson, famous for
baby shampoos and lotions, doesn't even make the pumps featured in
"We didn't want it to be too commercialized … then it
becomes sales, and consumers can feel that," said Ms. Bu.
The Shanghai native, 44, joined Johnson & Johnson 21 years
ago as China's baby-care category was just starting out, when most
moms used nothing but water and rough bar soap on infant skin.
After J&J bought Chinese baby care line Elsker in January,
Ms. Bu was tapped to head the brand. While J&J's products
target China's masses, Elsker is higher-end and uses natural
ingredients including shea butter and olive oil. It's pricier, but
Chinese parents don't skimp on kids. In China, with its one-child
policy, parents face social pressure to give their children the
best, Ms. Bu said -- "the best products, best food, best
That credo extends even to baby shampoo, especially as product
safety is such a worry in China since a deadly 2008 scandal over
tainted milk powder.
In China as in the U.S., J&J has faced concerns about
formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in its products. The company
says it meets both U.S. and Chinese standards but has pledged to
improve formulas worldwide to boost consumer confidence. Still,
J&J's value share in the Chinese baby- and child-care market
slipped to about 30% in 2012 from nearly 40% five years earlier,
according to Euromonitor International.
The breastfeeding video helped rebuild brand image. Elsker, with
a 3% market share, now offers an opportunity to diversify. Working
with DDB Shanghai, Ms. Bu is overseeing a print
and digital campaign for Elsker featuring photographs by Anne
Geddes, a photographer known for whimsical baby pictures. The ads
offer a reassuring message about Elsker's natural ingredients: They
show naked babies, asleep, wrapped in leaves and flower petals.
Next: Katty Lam