Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Live Web Series Has Found a Global Audience

The first season of The Road to a Vaccine had 90 million views in 100 countries

Journalist Lisa Ling hosts the weekly web series. Johnson & Johnson
Headshot of Paul Hiebert

Johnson & Johnson, the New Jersey-based health-care manufacturer behind Tylenol, Motrin and Zyrtec, has a new hit on its hands that’s not available for sale over the counter.

In April, J&J debuted The Road to a Vaccine, a live web series hosted by journalist Lisa Ling that documents the company’s search for a coronavirus vaccine and features interviews with health experts and J&J scientists. So far, Season 1’s eight episodes, which originally aired between mid-April to early June, have attracted 90 million views from more than 100 countries, according to the company. In addition, Season 1 garnered more than 424,000 engagements across J&J’s social channels.

This level of interest has encouraged J&J to expand its educational series with more content and a different mix of formats, such as roundtables and shorter news segments, until at least December. Season 2, which covers topics such as racial disparity and how Covid-19 impacts children, began in early July with an episode involving actor and HIV advocate Laverne Cox.

“We continue to be amazed by the curiosity we’ve seen, and desire for real-time updates from this series on a global scale,” said Michael Sneed, J&J’s chief communication officer, who noted the series’ second season is consistently receiving large audiences from major international cities such as Sao Paulo, Mumbai and Madrid.

Part of the show’s success is driven by “the increased demand for factual information in today’s crowded digital environment,” added Sneed. “This live format of the show allows the scientific experts to really connect with the audience in an authentic, unedited way, which we feel is more important than ever.”

Lisa Ling, host of CNN’s documentary series This Is Life with Lisa Ling, said working on the series has been unique due to J&J’s vast access to leading doctors, scientists, experts and frontline health workers, whom she interacts with alongside a live global audience.

“The digital nature of the series is different from previous projects I’ve worked on, as I can instantly see questions flood in from viewers around the world,” said Ling.

As for J&J’s progress on developing a vaccine, the company expects to start Phase 3 clinical trials in September.

The Road to a Vaccine, produced by content marketing studio Vimby, airs on Tuesdays at noon ET on J&J’s various social media channels, as well as its website.

With fewer people having elective surgery or buying beauty products during the pandemic, Johnson & Johnson’s total sales have suffered. During the second quarter of 2020, the company reported that revenue had decreased 10.8% compared to the same period last year.


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@hiebertpaul paul.hiebert@adweek.com Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.
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