EXCLUSIVE: Pfizer wants you—to join its diverse scientists showcased in new ad

A mother and daughter are two stars of a new Pfizer ad launching today in digital and print showcasing the diversity of its scientists. (Pfizer)(Source: Pfizer)

Diversity is the star of Pfizer’s latest marketing push.

In a new ad launching today, a mom wakes up to her child of a different race jumping on the bed, two men eat breakfast together and laugh as one sneaks the dog a bit of bacon, a woman wearing a hijab leaves her house, and a young woman with platinum blond hair and a nose ring listens to loud music while brushing her teeth.

What they have in common is this: They're real scientists getting ready for work at Pfizer. They star in the newest Pfizer “Driven to Discover” effort, this time aimed at attracting the best R&D talent.

The script for the ad is short, but the words draw a big circle around the variations in race, religion, gender, age and orientation found among Pfizer scientists in the U.S.

The employees featured take turns saying the words: “We come from different places. We look different ways. We live different ways. We love different ways. We worship different ways. But there’s much that we all share."

That common denominator's objective? "To bring the boldest, brightest thinking to the search for life-saving cures," the tag-team voiceover continues. "Built on one shared understanding of the power of science." And then the kicker: "Come join the many daring different people at Pfizer. All driven by one shared goal. All driven to discover the cure.”

Sally Susman, Pfizer's EVP of corporate affairs, talked to FiercePharma about the new ad and the bigger Pfizer’s Driven to Discover umbrella campaign—now two years old—which featured real Pfizer employees in every creative launch.

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“The tagline at the end of the ad ‘Driven to discover the cure’ I think represents the motivation for most people who work here,” Susman said.

Part of that drive is intensely personal for most Pfizer employees, she added. "Everybody here has some story about their loved ones or family that motivates them, that makes them stay here late and get here early," she pointed out. "It’s not an industry where people are driven by large amounts of fame or ego. I have found people to be just incredibly modest, hardworking and incredibly bright. I consider it my mission to expose those people to the rest of the world who may have a different view of what it means to work at a big pharma company.”

Pfizer found the 18 featured employees—and their kids and dogs—by putting out an internal casting call. Some signed up enthusiastically, while others showed up on a whim, Susman said. But all were motivated by the values in the ad “because they are so much a part of everybody here.”

That real passion from employees and the emotion it elicits in others are key to the Pfizer branding—and its work to be authentic and build trust. Susman said Pfizer has found, both empirically and anecdotally, that the more people know about Pfizer, the better they like the company. The Driven to Discover corporate campaign has in fact moved the needle by a couple of percentage points on trust since it first made its debut, she said, acknowledging, however, that there's still more to be done.

The new “We are One” ad is meant to stir interest among potential future employees. It is critical for Pfizer to recruit and retain the best scientists, Susman said, and the company wants the message to be clear that Pfizer values science and values its people.

“We want people to know Pfizer is a great place to pursue your scientific career no matter what your background, experience, race, or orientation is,” she said.

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The campaign will run in digital and print, but does not have a TV budget. The ad agency for the work is Healthwork, a collaboration between BBDO and CDM that also put together the Driven to Discover and Dreams ads. Pfizer plan to create more advertising in this series, possibly around manufacturing employees, Susman said, though the details aren't yet set.

Susman gave her take on Pfizer’s marketing journey over the past decade since she signed on with the company herself. When she first started, the company became embroiled in controversy over its use of artificial heart pioneer Richard Jarvik in an ad for Lipitor that it eventually pulled off the air. It also caught some flak for using an actor to portray a real patient.

“There’s been a progression over time, an important one, toward authenticity. I don’t need actors, I have the real thing here. I just need more and more opportunities to showcase people who in my view are nothing short of heroic,” she said.