In a previous role, I worked with a client that was constantly coming under attack on its social channels about certain ingredients used in its products. I, along with the other agency partners, pleaded with the brand to make moves to get rid of the offending ingredients.
It was harmless, we were told. Sure, the cost to change would be negligible, but who were they (the customers) to tell us what to put in our product? It felt icky to work on their behalf.
I wish they had the courage at the time to do what Johnson’s Baby has done.
Take a look at this video from the brand, titled, “Our Safety Promise.”
A cynical take on this would be to label it a publicity stunt, or a marketing ploy. And perhaps there’s some truth to that. After all, it’s been my experience that no corporation makes a significant move like this without first considering all angles and ensuring that it will, in the end, benefit the brand’s bottom line.
But I’ve also see that Johnson's Baby is far from alone in offering products with controversial ingredients. The problem is that outrage is limited to a passionate and vocal minority, who take to social media to spread the word. In the case of Johnson’s Baby, there was likely a tipping point when it made more sense from a financial and PR standpoint.
And yet, I can’t help but feel good whenever a corporation clearly seems to do the right thing. While Ad Age
’s characterization as “social media transparency” may be a bit too optimistic, hopefully if campaigns like this are successful, more brands will see social responsibility as an asset rather than a financial hinderance.