Could Big Pharma be casting off its Luddite habits and catching up with the Internet age? Well, Johnson & Johnson at least is turning to the Web as the next frontier in corporate and promotional communications--at a time when most of its competitors are also struggling to get more bang for their advertising buck.
The New Jersey-based drug giant cut 10 percent of its marketing budget last year, spending $1.9 billion compared to $2.1 billion in 2005; this added up to 32.7 percent of sales last year, down from 34.1 percent in 2005. But that wasn't the only surprising marketing-money move: Many of the cuts appear to come from DTC television advertising in favor of more experimental methods of reaching consumers.
The new approach can also be seen in the newly posted videos featuring employee stories on J&J's Web site. Links to the videos are displayed on the homepage (http://www.jnj.com/home.htm)--where they're accessible to analysts and investors, doctors and consumers, career-searchers and current employees--and also woven through its 2006 annual report. The online report is perusable in standard PDF format or on self-turning "virtual paper," where a camera icon launches the videos.
"There's more passion and enthusiasm in the people who work here than you can convey," said Ray Jordan, vice president of public affairs and corporate communications. "The videos really brought the stories to life, and the stories really brought the strategic principles to life."
Jordan noted that while many companies include employee stories on their own Web sites, he couldn't find another firm that is taking it a step further by adding video.
The videos aren't related to the advertising shift per se, but the same line of thinking drove both. "It's about a migration from print to online," Jordan said. "It's no surprise that where we're going in the advertising space is consistent with corporate communications."
Last month, for instance, the company invited several medical bloggers for an over-dinner discussion of social media like blogs and other online forums. "This is a very appealing space, and we're looking into it," Jordan said.