ITV 50 Years of Fame: Private view - Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson has always meant babies. But it's much more than that. It is about the relationship between mothers (and fathers) and their babies.

What Johnson & Johnson has done so well is to exploit this relationship through the products. Whether by accident or by design, there is a recognition that adults like to think of themselves as sensitively skinned folk, and therefore the gentleness of the baby products appeals to mothers as well as their babies.

For me, the commercial that does this the most effectively is the oldest one on this reel (3). It is the best ad of the six, so it's no coincidence that it is the one that I remembered from way back when in 1987. It features a head-and-shoulders shot of a young woman removing her make-up. As she does so, the image of her face peels back and floats away to reveal a younger her. This happens again and again until she has regressed to a baby. The soundtrack is "Baby face, you've got the cutest little baby face ...", and apart from one slightly scary moment when her late-80s "Flock of Seagulls" style haircut appears on a toddler's head resulting in a strange Macaulay Culkin moment (early, undeveloped and crude technology can be held responsible here), it all works rather well. The voiceover explains how baby lotion keeps your skin feeling baby soft.

None of the subsequent ads packs as powerful a punch as this one. The next continues the focus on the grown-up use of baby oil to give baby-soft skin (2). The end voiceover, "Johnson & Johnson, from the day you were born", continues the theme.

Next up is a commercial for Johnson & Johnson's No More Tears baby shampoo (1). Again, this concentrates on the baby formula for grown-ups. The ad features a little boy who observes that his shampoo is being used by everyone in the family. In order to confirm his suspicions, he runs to get a pen to place a mark on the bottle. The endline, "For all the heads of your family", is completely consistent with the brand message.

The three remaining commercials are more traditional mother- or father-and-baby demonstrations for lotion, talc and wipes. They employ Hugh Laurie to provide the voiceover, which delivers that cute "baby as grown-up" commentary style that has become so synonymous with ads for baby products.

The Baby Bath execution talks about its "No More Tears formula" that means that you can enjoy all your babies' eye colours, be it green, blue or brown, just never red (6).

The talc ad is about keeping your baby protected from wetness, with a mildly amusing nod to not being able to answer all your baby-wetness issues (5).

And, of course, no baby campaign would be complete without a kissometer for baby soft skin. This final spot is for baby wipes (4). The visuals show the usual baby images, with Laurie talking about research findings in the form of number of kisses to the babies' soft skin. While these last three ads don't talk about the shared usage, they always feature babies and parents whose relationship seems to be at the heart of the brand.

True, none of these ads is category changing. But then, Johnson & Johnson invented the category, so why run the risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

1. GOLD SHAMPOO Title: Marker pen Agency: Lowe (Ammirati Puris Lintas) Year: 1990 2. OIL Title: From the day you were born Agency: Lowe (APL) Year: 1997 3. BABY LOTION Title: Baby face Agency: Lowe (APL) Year: 1987 4. WIPES Title: Kissometer Agency: Lowe Year: 2001 5. POWDER Title: Twice sprinkle Agency: Lowe Year: 2002 6. BABY BATH Title: Water Agency: Lowe Year: 2005