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How J&J’s Gabriela Onofre Desensitized A Taboo Topic

In marketing female care brands, Johnson & Johnson is looking to break the taboo of silence about menstrual cycles with the hope of educating young women. In an exclusive interview with CMO.com, Gabriela Onofre—who, as senior director of global marketing, oversees J&J’s feminine care business in Latin America—explains how she navigates the sensitive topic of feminine care while engaging with consumers in an increasingly digital world.

CMO.com: How does J&J connect to clients throughout the consumer journey?
Onofre: We’re facing an increasingly digital journey. With the brands I oversee, which are directed at feminine care, we have an audience made up of young women and teens who are totally connected to digital channels. So for that reason, data analysis of interaction on our channels is a source of powerful insights for our strategies.

To connect as a brand in a meaningful way with customers, you need to understand what is being said about your brand from a cultural perspective. This is very much the case with the topic of menstruation. From our data analysis and social listening, we decided to end the taboo surrounding the subject and positioned ourselves as an educational brand.

CMO.com: In practical terms, how does education on themes specific to the female experience happen?
Onofre:
Through investment in content on topics that people are searching for. We’re dealing with very intimate subjects. It’s important to create and distribute highly relevant content for girls who are seeking information on periods. We also complement our digital strategy with other types of content, like the feature film “Nosso Sangue, Nosso Corpo," [which is about five teenage girls from different parts of the world who discuss menstruation and the challenge of entering adulthood], produced in partnership with FOX Channel.

In general, content is always prioritised in my media plan. The big transformation we made with the Sempre Livre [sanitary napkin] brand was turning it into a platform for conversations [about sustainability]. Digital gives us the flexibility for that.

CMO.com: Does J&J’s perspective on brand content alter the marketing tools used?
Onofre:
Definitely. We have a lot of information from the customers themselves that we collect through global social listening, and to do that, we use a series of tools and technologies. However, there is one thing that is irreplaceable, which is going out there and observing people.

We keep a close eye on our audience and carry out constant fieldwork. It’s important to understand people’s context and life reality. This allows you to identify where your subject fits in and the cultural nuances of each target.

CMO.com: The whole scenario you mention reflects a transformation in the relationship between people and brands. What are marketing leaders’ roles within this transformation?
Onofre:
We are the leaders of the transformation. Our responsibility is to connect with people based on what the company offers. What is happening with people? How can my company meet needs and desires? The most successful CMOs will do this with a focus on results. That’s why we’re here. It’s bigger than a digital transformation.

The CMO’s role is to connect to culture and generate business. As leaders, we must inspire others and set the tone for this. We have to empower the team to bring novelty and give freedom to our brand’s partners. Make mistakes and learn from them.

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