HEALTH

Reckitt Benckiser expands marketing initiatives with PoweRBrands

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. Reckitt Benckiser on Friday announced the launch of what may be the first social media game on Facebook to promote specific brands.

The game PoweRBrands, targeted toward 18 to 30 year olds, is designed to mirror the real-life experience of being a marketing executive in such a leading edge company as RB.  By joining the “virtual RB” as a marketing executive, the player progresses through a combination of tasks and teamwork, and climbs the corporate ladder to eventually become global “president.”

PoweRBrands has been developed in partnership with Euro RSCG Riley and Nudge Social Media. It’s the first Facebook game of its kind, giving the player an opportunity to test their marketing and business ability, learn strategy and decision-making skills, and be introduced to the unique culture and challenges that face RB marketers every day.

“Over the last two to three years we have been developing a series of initiatives to reach out to talented students and people early on in their career,” stated Andraea Dawson-Shepherd, RB’s global communications director. “We aim to show them how RB operates, demonstrate the global nature of our operation, and underline the RB culture and how it differs from most ‘fast-moving consumer-goods’ companies,” she said. “The game is the logical ‘next step’ in building a strong online presence and it’s totally in keeping with our commitment to continuing innovation.”

RB already is an award winner in the digital realm, recently having been recognized for best use of social media at the Recruitment Advertising Awards and best website for organizations recruiting fewer than 100 graduates by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. The group’s campaign was also nominated in this year’s Digital Marketing Awards and CIPD Awards.

The game is supported by a Facebook fan page, also developed in partnership with Euro RSCG Riley, where players will be able to exchange news, and catch up on game changes and innovations. They’ll also be able to give feedback, provide ideas for new themes, and get all the latest information on poweRBrands.  Players who want to learn more about RB can link to the careers website at RB.com.

RB’s portfolio of products includes 17 global “powerbrands” including:  Lysol, Finish, Woolite, Clearasil, Mucinex and French’s.  Reckitt Benckiser’s 17 global Powerbrands account for two-thirds of its net revenue, the company stated.

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Amid controversy, J&J will cut plant staff

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Johnson & Johnson plans to lay off most of its staff at its troubled Fort Washington, Pa., plant, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

According to the report, J&J plans to cut between 300 and 400 positions at the factory while the company invests in upgrades as part of a comprehensive quality-improvement plan that J&J had submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.

The plant, which had been shut down in April, is expected to re-open by summer 2011. Manufacturing of the some 40 products that had been made at the Fort Washington factory will be shifted to other plants, the AP reported.

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NBTY acquired in $3.8 billion deal by Carlyle

BY Michael Johnsen

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. NBTY announced Thursday morning its acquisition by the Carlyle Group with the execution of a definitive merger agreement valued at $3.8 billion.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Carlyle — one of the world’s largest private equity firms, with more than $90.5 billion under management — will acquire all of the outstanding common shares of NBTY for $55 per share in cash, representing a premium of approximately 57% over NBTY’s average closing share price during the 30 trading days ended July 14. Carlyle has a pedigree of expertise in consumer and retail sectors, as well as health care, technology and business services and telecommunications and media, among other sectors.

“For our wholesale and retail customers, our commitment to quality and innovation will continue to be our focus,” stated NBTY chairman and CEO Scott Rudolph. “We will leverage Carlyle’s global resources and consumer sector knowledge to further drive the company’s global growth.”

“NBTY is an outstanding business with well-established brands, a proven vertically integrated multi-channel/multi-geography strategy and strong, long-standing customer relationships,” added Sandra Horbach, Carlyle managing director and head of the consumer and retail sector team. “We are impressed with the business that has been built under the leadership of Scott Rudolph, and are excited to work with him and the senior management team to drive continued growth.”

NBTY’s board has unanimously approved the merger agreement and recommended that NBTY’s stockholders adopt the agreement with Carlyle. A special meeting of NBTY’s stockholders will be held soon after the preparation and filing of a proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission and subsequent mailing to shareholders.

The mailing of the proxy statement is expected to take place following the expiration of the 35 calendar day period following the date of the merger agreement, during the course of which NBTY is permitted to solicit alternative proposals from third parties. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2010.

BofA Merrill Lynch and Centerview Partners are acting as financial advisors to NBTY, and Sullivan & Cromwell is acting as the legal advisor to NBTY.  Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse are acting as financial advisors to Carlyle, and Latham & LLP is acting as Carlyle’s legal advisor.

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