NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey: Good as its word, Johnson & Johnson has abided by last year's pledge to cut traditional media spend in favor of digital and other routes.

According to data from TNS Media Intelligence, the consumer product and pharmaceuticals giant slashed its measured media budget by more than $250 million (€188m; £128m) in 2006 to $1 billion.

The change was flagged by its decision last year to forgo the dubious pleasures of the annual upfront TV airtime-buying frenzy [WARC News: 16-May -06]. Without the commitment to TV, J&J was able to switch slices of its marketing budget to unmeasured media, such as search and other direct initiatives.

The company's drug brands saw their direct-mail and email programs increase 31% in 2006, reports database-marketing tracking firm John Cummings & Partners/DBMscan. However, these rose by less than the 77% increase among direct-to-consumer drug marketers overall.

The change in tactics also embraced such OTC brands as Neutrogena and Johnson & Johnson baby products, all of which cut measured-media spending last year despite growing sales.

The year also witnessed launches of or more support for specialty websites on such topics as arthritis, cancer, attention deficit disorder, pain and psychiatry.

J&J's online spend rose 31% to $32.1m, according to TNS, although that does not capture the heavy search advertising which drives most traffic to such sites.

The company remains zip-lipped on its media mix but Rex Briggs, ceo of consultants Marketing Evolution, says: "Johnson & Johnson has been one of the phenomenal companies at marketing R&D, and getting people to try new things, and go beyond the comfort zone of 30-second TV spots."

He adds: "That is translating into [budget] shifts. To me, it seems like a model for best practice."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff