Pfizer is planning to advertise its Covid-19 vaccine Comirnaty
6 min read
fairly difficult
Prescription drug advertising for vaccines is more complicated than it might seem.
Pfizer is about to start advertising a new product in the US: the Covid-19 vaccine.

This might sound a bit odd. After all, it's hard to think of a product that's received more promotion than the Covid-19 vaccine. Governments, activists, healthcare specialists, celebrities, and regular citizens are all unpaid advocates for it, urging anyone who is unvaccinated to get a shot, often a second, and soon a third.

The US is, with New Zealand, one of only two countries that allow direct-to-consumer advertisement of prescription drugs. So when Pfizer's vaccine, which now has the brand name Comirnaty, received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Aug. 23, the company was also authorized to market it and has expanded its salesforce to do so.

Pharmaceutical companies spend an exorbitant amount of money on marketing, their single biggest area of expenditure, ahead of research and development. In 2019, Pfizer spent about $2.4 billion in advertising, and its resources to promote the Covid-19 vaccine might be even bigger, considering the company is already expected to make $15 billion from it, prior to any marketing.

The company hired the advertising agency Ogilvy to work on a campaign. "We plan to take a thoughtful approach to marketing and advertising Comirnaty to the public during this time, with the goal of increasing confidence in vaccination," Eamon Nolan, a spokesperson for Pfizer, told Quartz in an email. Both Pfizer and Ogilvy declined to share further details about the campaign.

Whatever thoughtful approach the company plans to take to its marketing, it's likely the objectives are to expand the market for Covid-19 vaccines, and convincing as many people as possible to get the Pfizer vaccine, rather than any of the others that are available.

This will become especially important as Americans over 65 and at high risk of contracting Covid-19 will soon begin getting booster shots, after a recommendation from a panel of FDA advisors. Other groups…
Annalisa Merelli
Read full article