Bad hair day? Neutrogena has the solution

Agency/media company

Agency/media company

Palmer Jarvis DDB/OMD


Johnson & Johnson



Media budget

More than $1 million

Media used

Consumer magazines


January through December, 2001

Media team

Lori Gibb, VP, group media director

Pallavi Sodhi, group account director

Edith Rosa, account supervisor

The background

Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena brand competes in the cut-throat skin-care category. Key competitors outspend Neutrogena and, in many cases, enjoy a halo effect from their cosmetic businesses. These competitors often seem to dominate the consumer’s field of vision with frequent double page spreads and tip-on samples.

Neutrogena is a well-known and trusted brand name overall, but it has many products under its umbrella. These sub-brands are less known, and many go unsupported. Additionally, with most creative executions coming from the U.S., flexibility is limited and production dollars are scarce. However, Neutrogena does enjoy strong dermatological endorsement and a positive ‘healthy’ brand image that we believed could be used to our advantage.

Given the competitive environment, it was clear that we needed to find ways to make the brand stand out, particularly in the busy magazine setting. We also had to find a creative way of supporting the many sub-brands and multiple SKUs attached to each product line. We determined that the best way to do this was to leverage our ownable equity: that Neutrogena is ‘Dermatologist Recommended.’

But instead of just saying that in our ads, we decided to demonstrate it to our target. To do this, we created a platform of skin-care expertise, delivered through a consumer-relevant medium.

The plan

Magazines became the natural choice to carry our message because of their powerful connection with their readers and strong heritage as an information source.

Working with magazine partners Canadian Living, Coup de Pouce and Clin D’Oeil, we created a series of full-page and one-third-page advertorials titled ‘Ask the Expert.’ These advertorials complemented the existing product-focused brand ads by providing our target with answers to skin- and hair-care concerns while positioning Neutrogena as the skin-care authority.

Running the advertorials throughout the year gave us consistent reinforcement of this expert positioning and also afforded us the means to support multiple product lines and SKUs.

Our partners provided layout and production services, thus stretching our budget, and also tailored the tone of the pieces to relate to the specific magazines. They worked closely with the brand and agency team to ensure the messages were consistent with our overall brand image.

Another key benefit of the advertorial series was its ability to increase our physical presence in the magazines, enabling Neutrogena to compete with larger brands.

Beyond ‘Ask the Expert,’ we also worked with the magazines to develop some stand-alone feature communication pieces.

‘Meet Nancy, Nora and Natasha’ was a four-page ROP section highlighting three beautiful women with different skin and hair care needs. Each page offered us the opportunity to link products to specific concerns and reinforce Neutrogena as the solution provider, in line with our strategic platform.

Lastly, an outsert developed for Clin D’Oeil magazine literally stood out of the magazine. The large format caught the reader’s attention and opened the magazine to our brand ad. Both supported a new product launch, providing the means to further explain the product and its benefits in an exciting manner.

The results

Neutrogena enjoyed a successful year in 2001. Our three key categories of cleansing, moisturizing and acne all posted share gains of 3% to 15%.

Qualitatively, the response to the ‘Ask the Expert’ series has been strong and both the ROP section and outsert were key contributors to the successful launch of new products. In fact, the Clin D’Oeil issue with our oversized outsert delivered the highest newsstand sales for that issue in the past four years.

Judges’ verdict

‘A full leveraging of magazine’s traditional strengths: targeting, reach, depth of sale, timing and the halo of contextual authority. Nice to see magazine planning step out of the adjunctive mode. Not a big hook, perhaps – but sometimes you win by doing a lot of little things very well.’

‘Good use of the medium: the plan delivered on the objectives and used publications as partners, versus suppliers.’