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Purpose-Driven Marketing at Neutrogena: A Conversation with Tyler Rochwerg

Can marketing serve brands and a broader purpose at the same time? According to Tyler Rochwerg of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, absolutely. At last week’s Brand Innovators Summit on Purpose-Driven Marketing, I sat down with Tyler to discuss his role with Neutrogena Studios developing innovative content on behalf of a major brand.

Marketing is storytelling

Tyler Rochwerg is the Digital Marketing & Innovation Manager at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health, working on the Neutrogena, Rogaine, and Clean & Clear brands. He is also Creative Content Lead for Neutrogena Studios, a new division focused on educational content that promotes healthy skin for all. 

In our conversation, Tyler recalled the career journey that led him to this work, rooted in a lifelong interest in storytelling. Tyler dreamed of becoming a filmmaker as a child, but when friends and family pushed him toward a more stable option, he decided to pursue marketing. As Tyler’s career developed, he began to see the overlap between his two passions and explored areas where they could come together: driving brands forward through compelling stories that also met a broader purpose. With this idea he helped found Neutrogena Studios, the first-brand funded entertainment studio dedicated to content that celebrates and promotes skin health and care. The studio recently released its first film titled In the Sun, a short documentary that follows the long-term effects of sun exposure.

Content to educate and inspire

In the Sun was created to serve Neutrogena's mission of driving behavior change around sun protection. The company was dismayed to see skin cancer rates on the rise, despite the fact that so many cases are preventable. As a brand, Neutrogena tried PSAs and TV spots to address the issue, but found that short-term content was unable to drive significant behavior change around sun exposure. The team at Neutrogena wanted to explore ways to encourage meaningful action and put their purpose at the forefront, which is where the idea of creating a film began. As Tyler learned, “Longer-form content has a way to move people in the way short-form cannot.”

Key to the film, Tyler noted, was cautioning viewers about the importance of sun protection without letting fear be the driving force in the story. The film celebrates characters who are full of life and optimism, but who at the same time are dealing with real and at times serious consequences of living in the sun. It’s equal parts inspiring and cautionary, and fosters a real emotional connection between viewers and the film’s subjects. Fans particularly love the story of Stu, an 85 year old man who spent his life in the sun as an outdoor circus performer.

The response to the film has been promising. Neutrogena ran a test-screening that asked 200 viewers about how the film affected their behavior and attitudes. After the film, 89% of respondents were more likely to wear sunscreen, while others resolved to see a dermatologist. The next step is to get the film into schools to further its potential for impact. It’s worth noting that the Neutrogena brand is not mentioned at any point during the film. Ultimately, Tyler explains, skin health and sun protection go hand-in-hand with the brand’s values and its business goals.

Another impressive venture Tyler and I discussed was the development of Neutregena’s Skin360® app, designed to educate and empower consumers to build their own skincare regimen. Looking at survey data, Neutrogena found that while shoppers might appreciate the importance of skincare, most didn’t know their own skin type or how to develop a skincare regimen tailored to it. Neutrogena responded by building a “selfie-powered skincare app,” allowing consumers to get a skin analysis at home, identify their skin type, and understand what types of product to use, all with the guidance of an AI assistant. As Tyler explains, this is an example of how creative content can serve two goals. “It’s how we can take our brand purpose and how we can help our consumers,” he notes. The Neutrogena Skin360® app was awarded ‘Best of CES’ by Wired, USA Today, and Women’s Health magazine.

Magic and logic: The role of data

It’s clear there’s some magic involved in creating inspiring content for audiences. But what about the numbers? As a data platform, we couldn’t help but ask. Tyler is enthusiastic about the role data can play in understanding how content resonates with audiences and drives brand growth. 

Based on previous roles in traditional brand marketing, Tyler applies data best practices to his current projects, including the film. During the test screenings, audiences used “interest buttons” to track their engagement, allowing the team to graph results and understand which parts of the film were most compelling. The studio made changes in the editing room based on this data and even used it to select clips for paid media assets.

“There is so much data in the digital space -- you can find data for any question you have,” Tyler reflects. His team uses Google Analytics for insights on shoppable ads, and monitors drop off rates on content from YouTube to improve its performance. It’s both an opportunity and a challenge, he notes. “Data is making our jobs as marketers both easier and harder, because there is so much more to look through now. The challenge is finding the right insight from the data that will lead to better performance.” As Tyler explains, it also means that marketers have to constantly have to upskill themselves, learning how to extract value from the data and most importantly, make changes. And that last piece is often missing for brands. Tyler challenges his team to ask, “What is the actionable insight here? Not just the ‘So What’, but the ‘Now What’?”

We couldn’t agree more. To learn more about how data drives CPG marketing, sales, and more, subscribe to the Crisp blog.

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