Pfizer’s new COVID-19 booster ad starring Martha Stewart is both rather odd and strangely compelling to watch in a definitive departure from its previous conservative vaccine commercials.
The 30-second spot, “Unwelcome Guest,” features Stewart in her beautifully perfect kitchen calmly sharpening a massive Samurai sword. As sparks fly, she says, “You know that unwelcome guest everyone wishes would leave already? That’s COVID-19.” She expands on how the new updated Pfizer shot protects against the so-called omicron variant.
She then effortlessly lops the top off a poor unsuspecting pineapple and drops it in the garbage.
Next Stewart slips her shirt down her shoulder, flashes a blue bandage and asks in her best “thirst trap” voice, “Got it?”
Then the words “got booster” pop up on the screen in almost the exact same font as Goodby Silverstein & Partners 1993 California Milk Processor Board “got milk” ads. It's a trip.
The whole vibe of the spot is "Kill Bill" meets "Top Chef." Stewart is both charming and vaguely menacing throughout. (Is the threat aimed at anti-vaxxers?) Luckily, the direction is clean and beautiful, so all these disparate themes somehow work—at least entertainment-wise.
As an octogenarian, Stewart (who somehow barely looks over 30 in the spot) is the right target for pushing the booster. How it will resonate is anyone’s guess, but Stewart has had a public image makeover in the last few years post insider trading conviction—palling around with rapper Snoop Dogg, the aforementioned thirst traps and just generally mocking her own formerly perfect image.
Still the goal of the spot, which is unbranded other than a Pfizer/BioNTech name flash at the end, is to get folks boosted, so it sends the viewer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccines.gov site.
Pfizer was a big name during the pandemic with its COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty as well as the antiviral Paxlovid and clearly hopes to continue that success as the panic dies down.