J&J Uses Time Warner Ideas

NEW YORK In an unusual move, Johnson & Johnson solicited ideas for new executions in its ongoing “Having a baby changes everything” campaign from at least three media conglomerates whose properties woud be running the ads. Time Warner’s initial concepts were used in three commercials.

Viacom and NBC Universal also submitted ideas for the effort, Time Warner said.

J&J’s lead agency, New York-based Lowe, a unit of Interpublic Group, executed the spots.

The work will run heavily on The WB, CNN, TNT, Turner and AOL, and print versions will appear in Time, People and other titles. The spots broke last week.

The unusual route of development illustrates J&J’s ongoing interest in going beyond its traditional ad agencies to complete unique deals with media providers.

J&J approached media companies last December seeking ideas. “We’re trying to piece together a lot of what’s changing in the media landscape, get the different media channels working together more,” said Brian Perkins, J&J’s vp of corporate affairs.

Perkins said he expects J&J’s individual brand managers to start looking at more cross-media creative deals with media giants. “I think this is more the model of the future. We’re encouraging this from our agencies and our media partners,” he said. “Our pharmaceutical people and our medical device people are embracing this kind of change as well.”

Perkins spoke to Brandweek, a sister magazine of Adweek, after returning from a summit last week of 350 J&J marketers, hosted by Microsoft in Redmond, Wash. “We’re not closing out other ideas from other companies. We’re posting a sign saying we’re open to new ideas.”

“They asked all the media companies to amplify this campaign . . . in the most integrated and relevant and customized way possible,” said John Partilla, Time Warner’s president of global marketing. “They were very clear. They said this a bake-off, whichever media company best delivers will garner the lion’s share of the spend against this effort, as well as help the overall advertising partnership.”

J&J spends $1.3 billion a year on advertising, and up to $28 million on its corporate image work, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Both Perkins and Partilla said J&J’s lead agency Lowe was involved from the start in approaching the media companies for new ideas.

“I don’t think Madison Avenue should feel threatened. I think Madison Avenue should feel we’re looking for more creative solutions,” Perkins said. (Lowe’s IPG sister shop, RGA, did the interactive portion of the campaign.)

The spots feature three Time Warner celebrities, actor Stephen Collins from The WB’s 7th Heaven, actress Holly Robinson Peete from UPN’s Love Inc. and writer Nicholas Sparks from publisher Warner Books. The stars address the camera directly and talk about how having children completely altered their priorities. Collins, for instance, says, “After I became a dad, success really meant doing work that I felt was worth doing . . . Whenever I got a job that took me away from home, that became a terrible thing.”

The commercials conclude by urging viewers to visit baby.com.

The spots are presented in long, single takes, in which the actors simply talk, uninterrupted by the sort of clever editing and jumpy camera work that typifies many faux documentary-style ads. The black-and-white spots were shot on digital video.