Pfizer offers a soft sell with a strong message on vaccines in first COVID ad

About a hundred years ago in 2019, “normal” was just shy of an insult—a word synonymous with “boring.” Pfizer knows that these days, “normal” (not counting the dreaded “new” normal) seems like a fantasy land.

Think of the last lines spoken spoken by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Dr. Mindy in Netflix’s new satire “Don’t Look Up” (spoiler alert): “We really did have everything, didn't we? I mean, when you think about it.”

Pfizer, co-developer of mRNA COVID vaccine Comirnaty, is clearly on board with Dr. Mindy if the pharma's first television spots promoting vaccines are anything to go by. The first spot, “Remarkable,” reinforces the idea that these days, normal is rather worth noting.

Without ever mentioning the words “COVID-19” or “vaccine,” like some kind of ghost of Christmas past, the spot takes the viewer to “the pursuit of normal” and features the deliciously mundane aspects of everyday life: hanging at the bus stop with friends, going to the barber shop, sharing(!) a bowl of popcorn for movie night, shopping for produce on a Sunday—all maskless and without fear. It is, however, worth noting that all the scenes of people working at Pfizer show them masked.

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The second ad, “Don’t miss your shot,” is a little more direct about vaccines, but just. It features the Brooklyn Nets’ Bruce Brown playing and talking about his love of the game and his team. It’s this and the importance of him being on the court that are the reasons he immediately got vaccinated. Again, Brown talks more of basketball than he does of the vaccine; Pfizer is never mentioned by name, but only appears as text on the last screen.

Both spots are subtle, nothing preachy, just a gentle reminder that it’s kind of up to everyone to get vaccinated to get back to living life pre-pandemic. Will this soft sell convince anti-vaxxers or those on the fence? Maybe? Those already vaccinated will most likely nod their heads "yes" at the message of the spots, but hopefully this isn’t just preaching to the vaccinated choir.

It’s not that Pfizer needs much name recognition these days; people from cab drivers to piano teachers and everyone in between has been dropping the “P-word” since the COVID-19 vaccine appeared on the block. Vaccine makers are the biggest brand names around right now, with Pfizer and Moderna as your Chanel and Gucci while poor Johnson & Johnson is a Sears special and AstraZeneca is some weird British brand most Americans won’t wear.