‘The pursuit of normal': Pfizer launches first Covid-19 vaccine TV ads
One of Pfizer’s new vaccine TV commercials never mentions its vaccine brand Comirnaty. In fact, it doesn’t mention vaccines or Covid-19 at all and doesn’t show people wearing masks or social distancing. Yet it’s clear the ad is talking about the pharma’s Covid-19 vaccines.
The ad’s voiceover talks about the unremarkable moments and routines that matter, like getting a coffee refill at a diner or Sunday grocery shopping. The images shift from those everyday moments to a scientists and purple lidded glass vials spinning off a production line and being packed into freezers.
The sign-off? “At Pfizer, protecting the regular routine in every day, drives us to reach for exceptional. Working to impact hundreds of millions of lives young and old, it’s what we call ‘the pursuit of normal.’”
A second video ad is more overt, featuring NBA Brooklyn Nets player Bruce Brown who talks about how he’ll do “literally anything the team needs me to do out there on the floor. So I really can’t miss any games. When the vaccines became available, there was no doubt I was getting vaccinated. I was super excited because my life is basketball.”
One of the final screens shows the words “Don’t miss your shot,” followed by a screen showing the Nets’, Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s logos. Similar to the other ad, the basketball ad is tagged “All rights reserved. December 2021.”
Pfizer declined to comment about the new ad, citing that it does not discuss its marketing strategies. However, the ads are copyrighted Dec. 2021 and a vaccine campaign had been expected before the end of the year.
According to media reports, Pfizer hired ad agency Ogilvy to do vaccine advertising shortly after the shot was approved by the FDA in August. The new commercial however is tagged on iSpot.tv as created by a different ad agency, Young & Rubicam. Pfizer has used both Ogilvy and VMLY&R for its marketing and advertising campaigns in the past.
No matter the agency, the timing of vaccine advertising syncs with FDA guidelines that wouldn’t allow Pfizer to advertise before being officially approved.
This summer Pfizer ramped up its Covid-19 vaccine sales force, the Financial Times reported, and posted advertising on LinkedIn to find a senior director to lead the US launch as well as a senior manager for Covid consumer marketing. The job listing now reads as “no longer accepting applications.”
One TV ad first aired last Sunday, and so far has run more than 300 times, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv.
Pfizer expects Comirnaty sales of more than $36 billion in 2021. It forecasted additional sales of $29 billion in 2022 in November, based on 1.7 billion doses sold — although it has the capacity to produce 4 billion. It’s already in the process of signing more deals with more countries for 2022.
Some may wonder with sales like that why even bother marketing. It may seem like a waste of resources, and that may be true for now when Pfizer is the only FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccine. However, there are at least seven more emergency use vaccines authorized around the world that are coming for Pfizer’s market share, especially in light of emerging evidence that booster will be needed for some time.
Moderna’s Spikevax, J&J’s Janssen vaccine, Novovax’s Nuvaxovid/Covovax, AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria and Sanofi and GSK’s vaccine will all be competing to become the booster of choice around the world. When and if those vaccines are fully approved in the US, expect more marketing and advertising as the pharma companies jockey for position.
And that means not just consumer awareness or even DTC ads, but also money spent marketing to physicians to become the Covid vaccine of choice with doctor’s offices likely delivering most future booster shots.