They are the brain trust behind Johnson & Johnson’s brand trust.
We’re talking about the Global Brand Protection team whose members spend their days—and yes, nights—working to safeguard the company’s supply chain.
“This is about protecting our patients, our consumers and also our brands,” says Rich Kaeser, Vice President, Global Brand Protection. “The tampering and diverting of products is a serious, global and fast-growing issue—not just for health care companies but for the whole consumer product industry. So we’re taking a proactive approach to securing our supply chain integrity.”
As you can imagine, that’s a big undertaking.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s largest healthcare companies, with products manufactured at hundreds of sites around the world. It’s a vast territory, to be sure—but this team has it covered.
The “shield” they wield is a set of 10 best practices that are reinforced region by region, site by site and employee by employee—so they become ingrained across the company. These best practices highlight safe and secure procedures for manufacturing, transporting and storing, properly destroying any returned products and identifying risk areas.
“Everyone at J&J plays a role in brand protection, but our team members are the point people on this vital task,” says Tracy Hassan, Senior Director of Brand Protection Strategy & Processes.
Take Roy Albiani, head of brand protection for the company’s medical devices division. Last December he and his team thwarted three different distributors from selling diabetes test strips that had not been obtained through authorized wholesalers.
“Our goal is to protect the health and safety of patients,” says Albiani. “This sends a clear message that we will aggressively pursue ‘gray market’ diverters and other wrongdoers who are motivated by greed and not by concern for patients.”
Curious to learn who else makes up the Brand Protection squad? Here’s a look at 10 key players from around the world.
Brand Protection Best Practice: Awareness and Education
Tim Hayes, Director, Brand Protection, EMEA, Livingston, Scotland
“In our department we use awareness and education to engage both internal employees and external partners in the fight against illicit trade.
To help give our supply chain, call center and customer-facing employees a detailed understanding of this complex subject, we conduct awareness training through face-to-face meetings and online materials.
For customs officers and other government agents, we provide intelligence about shipments coming in from high-risk ports of origin.
We also offer training to familiarize them with our products. This way, when they’re faced with a container load of potentially counterfeit product, they’re aware of the features of our authentic products. We do this training face-to-face and in the local language, so the message doesn’t get lost.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Transportation Security
Regina Zamith, Director, Brand Protection, Latin America, Sao Paulo, Brazil
“Cargo theft is among the most frequent illegal incidents within the health care supply chain. It affects manufacturers and distributors—losing them billions of dollars annually—and it affects consumers and patients who could be subjected to compromised product quality due to improper handling and storage.
In our operations worldwide, we use a tool to assess the risk, and then employ security measures that match the risk level. I can’t share the specific security techniques—we don’t want the bad guys to know what they are up against—but I can say that our team is making consistent progress in reducing the occurrence of critical cargo thefts in Latin America.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Supply Chain Visibility
Mike Rose, Vice President, Supply Chain Visibility, Bridgewater, New Jersey
"In my area of brand protection, we are building track-and-trace capabilities to secure the integrity of our supply chain and help ensure our patients receive genuine products.
We proactively work with regulators, legislators and trade partners to implement these capabilities in over 40 countries. We are committed to ensuring end-to-end traceability, which benefits the patients and consumers who use our products."
Brand Protection Best Practice: Product Protection
Chris Trent, Senior Manager, Product Protection Technology, Raritan, New Jersey
“Creating effective product protection plans is like fitting a complex puzzle together.
We think about who is looking for the product protection features that show whether a product is genuine—consumers, patients, health care providers or other specialized groups? And we consider how our risk-assessment process ranks a product’s required protection level and which features will protect it best.
Lifesaving injectable drugs, for instance, may need many layers of protection, including visible features on the package, as well as highly secure, covert features that can only be detected by informed people with special equipment.
Thankfully, digital authentication is revolutionizing my job, allowing for actionable, real-time feedback faster than ever.”
Pankaj Monga, Regional Director, Brand Protection Asia Pacific, Mumbai, India
“Collaboration is key when working with our external manufacturers. Our external manufacturer best practice provides guidance and measures to assess and mitigate possible risk.
Recently, the Global Brand Protection team developed a risk assessment tool for prospective, new and current external manufacturers. It’s a questionnaire that enables us to identify strengths and opportunities in the areas of security, human resources, operations, supplier management and intellectual property controls.
This assessment has been so successful that, in January 2016, it became part of the quality assurance audit process conducted by our Johnson & Johnson regulatory compliance organization.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Market Monitoring
Susan Liu, Senior Manager, Market Monitoring, Fremont, California
“In market monitoring, we collect information from market surveys, professional investigators, customer call center representatives and consumers to ensure products are sold through authorized supply channels. To safeguard online marketplaces, we have an expert who uses sophisticated computer algorithms to flag suspect Internet sales.
Instant authentication technology is dramatically speeding up fraud detection in the field. For example, shoppers can record and transmit images that can launch instant investigations and remove suspicious products quickly.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Commercial Insights
Kevin Weaver, Director, Brand Protection Technology, Raritan, New Jersey
“When we talk about commercial insights, it entails analyzing sales, marketing and operations data to identify such signs as illicit product diversion and fraud.
For instance, data may show that sales of one product into a particular market are decreasing, yet store shelves remain as full as before. Could illicit products be making up the difference? To find out, we may analyze data like the number of units shipped in and how many were sold out.
Illicit traders bring many creative challenges and react quickly, but our team is passionate about protecting patients, parents and children who count on our high quality and safety.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Incident Reporting and Management
Charles Hoskin, Regional Director Greater China, Global Brand Protection, Shanghai, China
“The incident reporting and management best practice is intended to guide all Johnson & Johnson associates on how to report incidents—or potential incidents—to their local operating company.
The management of incidents requires a cross-functional effort, and our Global Brand Protection team in China partners with quality, the law department and other organizations within the company to ensure that incidents are understood and addressed from diverse perspectives.
For example, I recently gave a presentation to our Janssen China leadership team and 2,800 associates, reminding them of the importance of reporting any suspected incidents to our quality team.
Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that more incidents are identified and reported correctly, which enables remedial actions to be quickly implemented.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Product Returns and Destruction
Jim Mentone, Global Director, Consumer Segment Leader, Raritan, New Jersey
“One of our strongest tools is to educate value chain personnel about product return and destruction processes and why they’re vital to protecting quality, safety and brands.
It’s a much broader effort than many may realize.
Yes, it’s making sure returned products arrive at destruction centers so they aren’t diverted and sold illegally. But people also must know about and control less obvious processes, like destroying unused packaging materials and new products in development. Since those don’t meet our stringent quality and compliance standards, they shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.
It’s noble work: Protecting consumers and patients is our most important objective.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Distributor Compliance
Roy Albiani, Director, Global Brand Protection, Medical Devices, Fremont, California
“Protecting our products requires excellent distribution practices, and one of the ways we help secure the supply chain for medical devices is to incorporate protective requirements, like data reporting in distribution agreements.
In addition, audits are performed to verify compliance, and if violations are identified, measures may be taken to address them to help recover lost revenue and create future deterrence.
Distributor compliance also engages broad enforcement avenues worldwide, including the Johnson & Johnson law department, law enforcement, global security, health authorities and business partners.
Together, we work to implement proactive and preventive measures to help identify and stop the illicit supply chain, holding bad actors accountable for behavior that may harm patients, customers, and the reputation of our brands.”
Brand Protection Best Practice: Facility Security
Tony Strange, Director, Global Brand Protection, Segment Lead for Pharmaceuticals, Raritan, New Jersey
“Facility security takes a risk-based approach to external manufacturing, distribution and logistics networks. We assess wide-ranging security requirements and processes, such as how long we retain security camera footage and how we light site perimeters.
Facility security is more than securing physical environments to protect people and assets. It’s about protecting intellectual property, too, because knowledge could be used to tamper with products, packaging or devices.
I see an immediate and tangible impact of my work on people’s lives—I haven’t lost the excitement I had when we kicked off the brand protection effort years ago.”