Splish Splash! Gerber Bathes in Wellness Success
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Splish Splash! Gerber Bathes in Wellness Success

Golin/Harris and Gerber first commissioned the national “State of the American Baby” survey to better understand parents’ challenges and add texture to the product launch.

Paul Holmes


While Gerber enjoyed 70 percent share of the baby food category and strong brand equity for more than 70 years, the company sought growth through the launch of Gerber Wellness.  Golin/Harris and Gerber first commissioned the national “State of the American Baby” survey to better understand parents’ challenges and add texture to the product launch.  The survey helped position Gerber Wellness products as helping meet parents’ needs.  Following the research, Golin/Harris implemented an interactive media event to unveil the products and survey results.  Highlights include more than 70 million media impressions with 100 percent message delivery.  In addition, only months after the launch, Gerber enjoyed increased sales across the Wellness line. 


  • Enhance Gerber brand equity to build foundation for Wellness category launch 
  • Generate awareness of Gerber Wellness products such as Diaper Rash Lotion and Tooth & Gum Cleanser among media and consumers  


Competitors:  Brands such as Johnson & Johnson and Baby Magic own this category – a new area for Gerber.  

Bridging messages: The survey introduced new consumer insights, which Golin/Harris needed to link with the Wellness launch.  While the survey was relevant to media, coverage needed to ultimately raise product awareness.  

Resources: Total resources devoted to this project were limited and expense for the national survey was one-third of the total budget, reinforcing the need for creativity in planning and execution.


Demonstrate Gerber leadership and expertise in babies via “State of the American Baby” survey, translating that trust to the Wellness line 

Execute aggressive and comprehensive media relations program to drive consumer awareness centered on an interactive media briefing 

Enlist credible, recognized spokespeople to deliver key messages


Survey:  Golin/Harris used the survey results, which measured parents’ attitudes about raising babies today, to establish Gerber’s understanding of parents’ needs and position the new Wellness products as solutions.  The survey covered a range of topics such as nutrition and child development, availability of resources, quality and quantity of time spent with their babies, and aspirations for their children.  The key finding:  although it’s a great time to be parents, they still face many obstacles.  This opened the door for Gerber to announce an extension of their trusted brand.  In addition, the survey provided a relevant news hook, as well as gave a platform to position the products as solutions. 

Spokespeople:  Gerber enlisted and trained credible, third party spokespeople to translate key learnings from the survey during the briefing and media interviews.  Program spokespeople included nationally recognized pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene; Yankelovich’s lead researcher and child development expert Beverly Romanowski; and Barbara Ivens, a registered dietitian and head of Gerber’s medical communications.


Media briefing:  Golin/Harris executed an interactive briefing in New York City to reveal the survey results and unveil the Wellness products.  The dozens of reporters who attended experienced “two events in one” hosted by Gerber CEO Frank Palantoni – an interactive presentation of research and a “Wellness Spa” to sample the products first hand.

Media first tested their parenting IQ against the survey results.  Using a high-tech audience response system, the forum established a “knowledge gap” among media – including baby and parenting magazine editors presumed to know parents and babies best – by comparing the answers media thought parents would have with the actual responses.  The survey discussion provided an opportunity for Gerber to showcase its knowledge of babies and offer everyday solutions – the Wellness line.   

Media then attended the “Wellness Spa,” where local babies and their parents sampled the products at individual stations complete with bathtubs and changing tables.  

Media outreach:  To extend the launch beyond New York, Golin/Harris executed extensive media outreach targeting broadcast and print media across the country.  Core activities included:

Press kit mailing and follow-up to a targeted media list of more than 700 business, features and parenting editors.

Distribution of comprehensive B-roll package featuring the interactive forum, survey findings, “Wellness Spa” and soundbites from third-party and Gerber spokespeople.


The Wellness launch achieved Gerber’s critical measures of success against its core objectives – widespread branded coverage; key message delivery for the Wellness line; and increased sales.

Widespread branded coverage:  The program generated significant media attention among business and consumer media, including parents’ key source for information – major baby/parenting magazines.  To date, the Wellness launch generated more than 70 million media impressions through 300-plus broadcast and print stories.  Highlights include:

Exclusive business story with Associated Press, which filed multiple national stories beginning the eve of the event, drawing local media’s attention to the event and maximizing coverage.

Live, 10-minute, in-studio interview with Gerber CEO on CNNfn “In Play.”

Key placements such as CNN (“Headline News,” “Ahead of the Curve,” CNN Airport Network); NBC, CBS and PBS network news; The Wall Street Journal; three USA Today “Snapshots” features; Los Angeles Times; New York Daily News; American Baby; Baby Talkand a front-page story in Supermarket News.

Message delivery:  Media placements positioned Gerber as a leader in the baby category and poised for this category growth.

Every story featured Gerber branding.

Nearly 80 percent of the coverage stated Gerber was “taking on” Johnson & Johnson in the baby aisle, demonstrating Gerber’s strength and brand equity and adding credibility to Gerber’s category entrée.
Increased sales:  Since the public relations launch in March 2000, Gerber has experienced increased distribution, sales and share across the entire Wellness line.  For example, in the two months following the consumer launch, Gerber grabbed 10 percent of the skincare share in the food channel. In doing so, Gerber surpassed the #2 baby skin care company (Baby Magic) and gained the second largest skin care share (which is the largest category in which Gerber competes) in that channel (according to IRI, 4/23/00).

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