In the late 1940s, a very well-known American artist had a connection to Johnson & Johnson first aid products. (And no, it wasn’t because the artist was accident-prone.) This artist had paintings in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and her works were widely exhibited in other places. The artist was Gladys Rockmore Davis, and she was a noted painter of children and other subjects.
In 1948, Johnson & Johnson commissioned Davis to do a series of original paintings of children for an advertising campaign for the Company’s first aid products. According to Madison Avenue, it was the first time that the works of a renowned artist were tied to advertising. Since Gladys Rockmore Davis had started as an advertising illustrator before turning to fine art, and since her paintings used bold, rich colors and had wide appeal, she was a good choice for the ad campaign.
1949 Saturday Evening Post Ad
The first ad in the series appeared full page, full color in Life magazine and the Saturday Evening Post in 1949. Like other popular Johnson & Johnson ads, they struck a chord with the public and immediately set off a strong demand for reprints. The Company received thousands of requests for the ad, and soon, copies of the Gladys Rockmore Davis ads were hanging in doctor’s offices, nurseries and kitchens across the United States. The ad series ran for two years and included fifteen Gladys Rockmore Davis paintings.
Today, many of the Davis ads – and some of the original paintings — can be seen in offices and conference rooms throughout Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, an example of how appealing the paintings remain to this day.
Johnson & Johnson has always paid very close attention to advertising and has a long history of campaigns that have captured public’s imagination, dating back to the Nineteen-teens and continuing to today with the “Having a Baby Changes Everything” advertisements. The Gladys Rockmore Davis ads are a part of that tradition.