Neutrogena Ditches TV for Social Media-Heavy Earth Month Campaign

Company zeros in on targeted advertising

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Household beauty brands have long relied on TV advertising to pitch their products to wide audiences. But with more consumers—particularly millennials—moving online, Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena Naturals is switching up its approach this year for its annual Earth Month campaign by going all-in on digital.

Since launching in 2011, Neutrogena Naturals has run a number of TV commercials with actress and brand spokeswoman Kristen Bell. This year, the brand is trying something new: a digital-only campaign that promotes water conservation and a new line of environmentally friendly makeup wipes. It will get a lot of help from Bell's 1.75 million Twitter followers—as well as its own 34,700 followers.

In addition to Bell, Neutrogena has tapped beauty vlogger Dulce Candy and bloggers El Diario de la Mode and Honestly Jamie to help spread the word.

"What we've been finding with our Naturals brand is really great success reaching national consumers through digital and social because of the ability to target," said Simon Geraghty, Neutrogena Naturals' brand manager. "It makes our spend effective and efficient with messaging that's much more relevant to consumers."

The crux of the campaign centers around the #WipeforWater hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Today, Bell will tweet out a video explaining the campaign that the brand will then share on its own channels.

Per Neutrogena, washing with soap and water wastes five gallons of water a day. To hammer that message home, the campaign challenges people to switch out their usual skin care routines with waterless wipes and talk about it on social media.

Bell and the other influencers will use Neutrogena's wipes for seven days, saving about 35 gallons of water per person. "What I like about the campaign is that it's a fun and engaging way for people to recognize ways to conserve in their own life," Bell said. "It gets the conversation started about water footprints and how we think we may not be wasting water. There are still ways to conserve that on the whole can have a huge impact on other generations."

This is also the first year Neutrogena is using social media to trigger charitable financial contributions for Earth Month. For every person who pledges to the cause, Neutrogena will donate $1 to the Nature Conservatory, up to $50,000. Paid media will run on Twitter, YouTube and digital video advertising company YuMe's network to support the campaign.

Geraghty noted it's a different approach to peddling specific products than Neutrogena and other beauty brands have used in the past. "It's not necessarily always about putting the products front and center the way it is for other beauty products and brands—it's more about connecting with lifestyles," he explained.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.