Pfizer has touched down at the Super Bowl. The Big Pharma ran its “Here’s to Science” ad at the event, framing its work to “outdo cancer” as part of a history of breakthroughs dating back to Hippocrates.
In the 60-second ad, which also comes in an extended 90-second cut, Pfizer shows paintings, statues and photos of people such as Isaac Newton, its founders Charles Erhart and Charles Pfizer, Galileo and Albert Einstein singing along to Queen’s "Don't Stop Me Now." Pfizer’s chief marketing officer Drew Panayiotou discussed the decision to show the ad at the Super Bowl in an accompanying behind-the-scenes video.
“The Super Bowl is a wonderful platform. It's probably the only platform in the world where you can talk to every audience that's out there, both B2B and B2C,” Panayiotou said. This year marks the first time that Pfizer has used that platform to run a corporate ad. Panayiotou added that the “iconic Queen song … cuts across generations with the words ‘don't stop me now,’ which is a great line for Pfizer.”
As well as showing many of the main men of scientific history, Pfizer’s ad showcases women who made major contributions, often without the same level of acclaim. A posthumous Time magazine cover of Rosalind Franklin, who played a key role in the discovery of the structure of DNA, features, as do images of the 19th-century scientist Mary Somerville and pioneering Black biochemist Marie Maynard Daly.
The ad, which features a scene in a women’s medical school, touches on the contributions Pfizer made to the mass production of penicillin and the creation of vaccines against COVID-19. Katalin Karikó, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work on mRNA, features toward the end of the ad.
After a whistle-stop tour of scientific history, on-screen text says “here’s to the next fight” and shows a link to Pfizer’s cancer website. In the final frames, a young girl is discharged from hospital and walks out of the building applauded by staff.
The Wall Street Journal reported that brands paid roughly $7 million for 30 seconds of ad time at the Super Bowl this year, suggesting Pfizer may have paid around $14 million on top of the cost of making the video. Pfizer laid off hundreds of workers last year and has continued to hand out pink slips in 2024.