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J & J's campaign for nursing's future: the gift that keens on giving.

Executive Summary

* Johnson & Johnson's Campaign for Nursing's Future has had an enormous positive nationwide impact on the image of nursing and applications to schools of nursing.

* As the campaign continues, nurse executives have a growing body of tools and techniques to use in local campaigns to support both recruitment and retention efforts.

LAUNCHED IN FEBRUARY 2002, the, Campaign for Nursings Future is now a $30 million gift from Johnson & Johnson (J & J) that truly keeps on giving. While many Americans are aware of the national television promotions, the campaign has grown much deeper and wider, delivering a measurable impact to patients, nurses, and employers. The breadth of the growing resources being developed through the campaign, the results achieved to date, and some of the market research driving the art and science of this successful campaign are profiled.

Scope Creep at Its Finest

According to Andrea Higham, J & J's Director of Corporate Equity and Nursing Campaign, "We started out with plans for a national ad campaign, but soon realized that we needed to do more." J & J enriched and added more to the campaign based upon the findings of nurse researchers like Linda Aiken and Peter Buerhaus (see page 150) who revealed more about the causes and solutions of the workforce shortage. "We also received an enormous amount of feedback from nursing professionals across the country," Higham said. Currently, the major highlights of the campaign involve an ongoing advertising campaign, a seemingly endless supply of recruitment and retention materials, an ever-expanding Web site, local celebrations and scholarship fundraisers, a Nurses' Week continuing education (CE) gift, and more.

J & J estimates its expenditure on the campaign exceeds $30 million so far. Approximately 50% of these dollars were spent on TV and print media. The posters, videos, and pamphlets are all available free of charge. Higham noted that J & J has spent a significant amount on their Web site as well: "We have received a lot of constructive feedback regarding our Web site which guided our efforts to enhance its contents and make its resources richer." Literally, hundreds of scholarship resources and thousands of educational resources are available via www.

In addition to their nationwide media campaign, J & J has partnered with entities in 47 of 50 states collaborating on local celebrations to raise awareness about nursing careers and raise money for scholarships and local grant programs. J & J has awarded innumerable small grants to support local recruitment and retention efforts.

Now in its 3rd year, J & J celebrated National Nurses' Week by offering a free CE credit to any nurse via Nursing Spectrum. In the 1st and 2nd years of the program, more than 10,000 and then 18,000 nurses took advantage of this generous offer, respectively. "This year, the total will exceed 25,000!" added Higham.

"The Nursing Gang[TM] made its debut in August 2004 as a way to reach children and increase their awareness of the nursing profession," stated Higham. This cartoon foursome appeared on book covers that were distributed to more than 1 million children across the country. Receiving more than 7,000 hits per month, the Web site pages with these characters contain games, jokes, music, and other youth activities. The characters will soon make their television debut in a rhythm and blues style music video targeting children in grades 4 thru 6. Higham noted that these formative years have a larger potential to influence career decisions than we may realize.

Nationwide Results

The Progress Report published by J & J reveals the direct accomplishments of the campaign through the end of 2004.

* 2 million unique visitors utilized the Web site spending an average of 10 to 12 minutes exploring.

* 46% of young people ages 18 to 24 recall the national advertising.

* 62% discussed a nursing career for the themselves or a friend.

* 24% who discussed a nursing career said the advertising was a factor.

* 8 million pieces of recruitment materials were distributed free of charge.

* 97% of high schools surveyed used the materials.

* 84% of nursing schools who used the materials experienced an increase in applications and/or enrollment.

* Over $7 million was raised for undergraduate scholarships, nurse educator fellowships, and capacity expansion grants for nursing programs.

* Over 500 student scholarships, more than 100 renewable faculty fellowships, and over 100 grants to nursing schools were established and/or awarded.

The campaign's success, in collaboration with innumerable local efforts, has also been measured by outside sources. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that BSN enrollment has increased 16.6% from 2002 to 2003. Similarly, the National Research Center for College and University Admissions reported that nursing moved from a ninth to a fourth place ranking in career paths that students would consider.

Art and Science Behind the Campaign

Obviously, large companies have big marketing budgets and base their actions upon scientific market research as well as the creative force of marketing professionals. The art and science of this national campaign can be readily applied to local customized efforts. When asked about the market research and strategies behind the campaign, Higham emphasized a few key points.

* Attempt to make an emotional connection with your audience first. Decisions are ultimately made when emotions are changed, not just thinking.

* Once the emotional connection is forged, add only a few more factual selling points such as the knowledge and skills required for the career and the variety of career paths available.

* Emphasize the opportunities and job stability, not the workforce shortage.

* Use images that assist students in identifying and visualizing themselves in the shoes of a nurse.

* Use "content-lite" materials for initial encounters as information overload can be an intimidating deterrent to learning more.

When asked about the creative approach used to develop the campaign's recognizable brochures and posters Higham said, "We modeled the look of movie posters because we wanted to portray nurses as heroes." The diversity of the nurses pictured in the print and TV media clearly reflect differences in age, gender, and ethnicity. Higham added, "I think it is important to point out that all of the people in our campaign are actually nurses. We thought it was really important to use nurses and I think that authenticity shows through."

A Promising Future

When asked about the trajectory of the future campaign, Higham reported no foreseeable end in sight and that many more enhancements and resources were in store. "In the Fall of 2005, we are planning to launch another national ad campaign emphasizing the need for faculty. We realize that the faculty shortage and retention efforts need as much emphasis as our initial focus on recruitment into the profession." In addition, J & J is releasing an interactive "Virtual Nurse Manager" CD-ROM. Realizing the challenge of the transition from staff to management and the importance of managers in staff retention, J & J created this resource to support skill development in the realms of human resource and financial management.

Recognizing the diversity of the patient population and the need for a more ethnically diverse workforce, the Web site will also be available in Spanish. Higham remarked that focus group research revealed the tendency for the parents of Spanish-speaking immigrants to overlook nursing as a respectable career--one that affords their children the "better life" that they seek. The Web site already contains resources for foreign-trained nurses.

While corporate giants like J & J have generously given resources to focus the nation's attention on nursing careers, it is local educational and health care organizations that actually make those career paths a reality. In fact, the number one influence on individuals choosing a career in nursing is another nurse. J & J is doing its part; let's each do our part.


Johnson & Johnson. (2004). Progress report, 1(1). Retrieved from and

Alison P. Smith, BSN, RN, is Assistant Editor, Nursing Economic$.
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Title Annotation:Johnson & Johnson
Author:Smith, Alison P.
Publication:Nursing Economics
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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