CANNES: Brands should seek to find the right balance between relevance and entertainment to successfully connect with consumers, according to Alison Lewis, Global CMO at Johnson & Johnson.

While speaking at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Lewis suggested the explosion of digital channels has enabled brands to become entertainers in their own right.

“The barriers to entry have been totally eradicated, and there’s entertainment coming from everywhere … Even brands like [ours] can produce entertainment and be entertainers,” she said. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: Johnson & Johnson aims to balance entertainment and relevance.)

Elaborating on this theme, Lewis asserted that the idea of marketing as entertainment could involve tie-ups with properties such as major film franchises, but can also take the form of telling powerful brand stories.

“It might be with different content, because I may not have my own celebrity [status]. But I have these amazing brands with these amazing stories to tell – with this amazing science – that, quite frankly, 20 years ago we had trouble communicating to people,” she said.

The flip-side of this equation, however, is ensuring the content that marketers deliver reflects real consumer needs, rather than only providing an amusing diversion.

Doing so, for Lewis, is the best way to drive sales. “In the world that I live in, it’s about relevancy,” she said. “And at the end of the day, I'm out to sell a product to this person. I’m not out just to entertain.”

Promoting Neutrogena’s innovative Light Therapy Acne Mask, which launched late last year and took a treatment that was traditionally the preserve of dermatologists and made it available to consumers, was a case in point.

This program featured everything from a 30-second television spot to six-second video ads and influencer partnerships, including a tie-up with Nash Grier, a male teen content creator.

“We’re using a broad spectrum of content,” said Lewis. “And I’d say it’s entertainment. Because people are choosing to engage in it, we’re entertaining them.

“But we are giving a very specific reason to engage, which is: We have a solution for you that’s better than the cream you’re using today, or the wash you’re using today – try it.”

Data sourced from WARC