Baby Powder Attorneys Represent Women of Color in Cancer Cases
J&J Targeted Marketed at Overweight Women of Color in the South
Monday, April 15, 2019 - Disturbing information has become public knowledge thanks to the work of baby powder attorneys seeking to hold Johnson & Johnson accountable for ovarian cancer cases: For a number of years, the health giant specifically targeted women of color in its marketing for talc-based body powders.
According to the Executive Director of the National Council of Negro Women, Janice Mathis, targeted a particular racial or ethnic group is not the problematic element. Knowing your key demographics and targeting advertising effectively is marketing 101. The problem, according to Ms. Mathis, is targeting a particular group with advertising for a product believed to be harmful--without ever warning the population of the risk for harm.
Ms. Mathis was interviewed for the second of two major exposés published by Reuters in recent months which delve into talcum powder cancer litigation. Baby powder attorneys have already filed more than 12,000 cases nationwide on behalf of women who have suffered from ovarian cancer after using talcum powder products. While the first piece established a timeline for company executive's growing awareness of the talcum powder cancer connection and its subsequent strategy to maintain the reputation of Johnson's Baby Powder, the second piece solely examines the topic of targeted marketing.
Between 2008 and 2010, J&J engaged in a robust effort to build brand loyalty within African American and Latina women. Among these demographics, populations living in the American South, and women who were overweight or seeking to lose weight were targeted. Promoted as a freshening and anti-chafing product, talcum powder was touted as safe for everyday use.
The events leading up to J&J's focus on overweight women of color in the South are disturbing: In 2006, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, officially classified perineal talc use as "possibly carcinogenic". (A key supplier of fresh talc, Luzenac America, added a note to its product label warning of the new cancer classification; Johnson & Johnson did not add a warning to its talc-based products.)
In response to declining sales following the 2006 announcement, J&J ramped up marketing efforts: Between 2009 and 2010 alone, the company's budget for talcum powder ads rose 71% (from $288k to $495k). Sales rose correspondingly at Walmart during the summer months.
These marketing efforts were very pointed. An internal company assessment noted that baby powder remained relevant among African American women, which led to a strategy to target promotions at minority women. In 2008, J&J reached out to marketing agencies that targeted African American and Latina women for proposals. Ultimately, the company hired Segmented Marketing Services, Inc., which specializes in marketing to minority populations. A strategy of engaging with women of color, mostly overweight and in the South, was carried out. This involved advertising through Weight Watchers diet programs, Curves fitness centers, Lane Bryant plus-sized clothing stores, and Southern Living Magazine.In 2010, multiple radio stations were engaged to promoted baby powder, including giving away samples at targeted events. Samples were also distributed in African American and Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago, through an extensive network the agency maintained of churches, salons, and other gathering places. J&J spent $1.2 million in 2008 and again in 2010 in these promotions.
In recent years, women across America have learned about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. By 2015, J&J had backed down off its race-based advertising. Today, the company faces more than 12,000 lawsuits in courts across the nation. Baby powder attorneys say the majority of plaintiffs in these cases are women of color. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have a history of using baby powder for perineal dusting, you may qualify to file a claim. Attorneys for baby powder cases are offering free case reviews to women and family members who qualify.