The 21 Most Intriguing: The Reinventor: Kim Kadlec

By — Ann Cooper

Kim Kadlec joined conservative packaged-goods giant Johnson & Johnson just one year ago, and since then, her actions have been anything but conservative. J&J, the eighth-largest U.S. advertiser, began by shocking the media world when it sat out this year’s TV upfront. And that was just the beginning. Next came the introduction of engagement metrics, the concept of integrated communications planning, and a shift of ad dollars into new media. Kadlec, one of a new breed of thinkers shaking up the higher echelons, talked to us about her background, J&J, magazines, and what she does for fun.


Born in New York, I studied music and marketing at Indiana University. (It was the back-up plan.) Clearly, the marketing worked out. I joined [now-defunct] New York ad agency Backer & Spielvogel in 1985, and worked first on the U.S. launch of Hundai, then on Campbell Soup and Miller Brewing. After 10 years and three kids, I moved to Zenith Media and the buying side. I managed the planning, for corporate and wireless. Next came Universal McCann, and Coca-Cola, buying AOR for the entire corporation. I then moved to News Corp’s Fox Broadcasting on the network side, for some good cross training.

Why J&J?

This is a wonderful opportunity. We have amazing, diverse brands that are open to new and innovative thinking. With my background it was the right thing to do.

J&J realized the media landscape was changing rapidly and they needed a fresh perspective. Part of my boss Brian Perkins’ [VP of corporate affairs] vision was to open the doors to new thinking and innovation. The brands were very clear on what their objectives and strategies were. They’re all on a set planning cycle, and we looked at how to mesh that with the marketplace and enter into new ways of thinking about integrated communications. It’s more of a 360-degree approach than ever before, and we’re shifting the focus away from traditional roles. We’ve taken a media-neutral, consumer-centric and brand-centric approach to brand objectives. Through integrated media planning, we’re bringing very diverse talents and backgrounds together.

It Began With J&J Sitting Out the TV Upfront. How Much of a Departure was That?

It was a fresh approach and a strategic shift, and it was all about what’s best for brands. The goal is to come back to the market with more strategic information and develop some engagement platforms across the connection points and with the media industry.

What’s the Role of Magazines Within All This?

Print will have an important role. Magazines are in a situation to leverage consumers’ multitasking behavior. It’s also a permission-based medium, and based on the conversations I’ve had with publishers around the industry, they have a clear vision of how to capitalize on such behavior. We do a lot with magazines, but our publishing partners can go farther in the way they connect their content through the behavior stream. Neutrogena, Acuvue, and Clean & Clear have taken advantage of unique placements, but I challenge the print industry to take it to the next level. With Neutrogena, we used bigger-than-usual units, and with Acuvue we did an integrated program based around podcasting. We’re currently working on other examples with Meredith on specific ideas around Spring Break.

What Innovations Have You Implemented So Far?

We’ve started to expand from the printed page, and we’re weighing whether that includes retail, the Internet, or a relationship marketing effort. What’s critical is how we evaluate consumer behavior, how different forms of media connect and how we can drive that to retail. If there’s a way to engage and connect to our consumer in a more holistic way, that’s what we’re looking for.

What About Engagement Metrics?

We’re working with IAG Research for broadcast and OMD and Vista for print. We’re looking for innovative ways to measure value beyond just seeing an ad.

What Do You Do For Fun?

I love cycling, that takes up a big part of my free time. In fact, my husband and I are leaving tomorrow, biking from Prague to Vienna. And I love all kinds of music, from opera to rock. My daughter plays electric guitar, so I live vicariously through that.