I feel like it’s been an eternity since we last talked about Johnson & Johnson and its unique attachment to my family. Two eternities, a lifetime and a pandemic later, to be more precise.
Looking at my last entry, it was only about a year ago, but the world is not in the same place as it was then.
Let’s talk about what that means personally for a minute: in my last blog, I talked about my pregnancy and upcoming transition into motherhood. Well, now I find myself with a 10 (and a half!) month old baby and a sister who is preparing to welcome her own daughter in the fall. (Oh, and this thing called COVID, but let’s not go there.)
Since I was living in prep-for-baby universe just a year ago, I’ve been helping my sister navigate that confusing world. Interestingly, on our very first Zoom call about putting together a baby registry, our family’s relationship with Johnson & Johnson came up. In fact, I’d say it was within the first 20 minutes when we started talking about bath time needs for baby.
In the middle of our light-hearted conversation about hooded towels and infant-friendly bathtubs, my sister brought up the idea of putting infant shampoo and body wash on her registry (yes, that’s a thing).
Before I could open my mouth to make a recommendation on products, she immediately said: “Right…shampoo and stuff…what to ask for? Thanks, dad!” She said that last sentence with open sarcasm. I didn’t even have to ask her what that meant: It meant that, due to our family’s long-standing history with Johnson & Johnson, via our father, there was no question: she was going to put the classic J&J products on her registry.
(Our father worked at Johnson & Johnson for a number of years in the 80s and 90s, when my sister and I were young children. As a result, our family developed a devotion to all J&J products. You can read more in my previous blog if that doesn’t ring a bell.)
Yep, she went straight to J&J – and my sister is an even “better” millennial than I am – think does yoga every day, lives in a trendy (read: somewhat shady) area of Houston proper, insists on minimal modern décor, frequently shops brands that align with her socially-conscious sentiments, and eats avocado toast regularly. (On the other hand, I live in a semi-stereotypical family-friendly suburban neighborhood, tend to prefer bargain hunting to brand loyalty, and have been accused of being a “bad millennial” for owning a printer that I periodically use.)
While I hated to break that fun whirlwind discussion with my sister about picking out the right products for baby, I had to break it to her that she needed to stay away from J&J at all costs – even though we had always thought it was a “safe,” “reliable,” and “quality” brand.
The highlight of that conversation was when I brought up the discontinuation of J&J’s famous talc-based Baby Powder, and why she should absolutely never powder her baby. While I was grateful not to have any pushback, all she could say was: “Well, powdering your baby is old fashioned anyway.” (Did I mention my sister is a better millennial than I am? Nothing “old fashioned” for her baby will do!)
But, despite all of that awareness millennials are supposed to have about staying away from harmful chemicals, being more environmentally-conscious, eating plenty of avocado toast, doing lots of yoga and so forth, she still defaulted to Johnson & Johnson – a brand now notorious for being an extremely anti-millennial friendly company.
At the end of the day, it’s important we all understand what is in the products we buy, especially when it comes to something as precious as what we use on our children. While I ultimately convinced my sister to dump J&J, I hope others will take notice and do the same — the brand is still floating around out there, trying to salvage what may still remain of its reputation and could continue to hurt countless others.
Don’t let their caring ads fool you: J&J is NOT a brand compatible with the beliefs of most millennial moms.
Digital Outreach, A Case for Women