Pfizer uses star power to emphasize risk factors and COVID in latest vaccine ad push

Pfizer’s latest COVID-19 campaign is heavy on star power and light on product specifics. In fact, the spot features a fantastic array of celebrities to reach just about every demographic.

That includes musical artist Pink; drummer, filmmaker and singer Questlove; actor Jean Smart; and Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, each of whom talk about what makes them high risk for COVID-19 but all without mentioning the “V” (vaccine) or “P” (Paxlovid) words.

The spot, “A Whole Different Ball Game,” has the four tossing around a COVID-19-shaped ball from frame to frame as they discuss their personal high risk factors and what that means if they get sick. Pink has asthma, Questlove is overweight, Smart has diabetes and Phelps struggles with depression—all of which can make COVID-19 more dangerous.

The point of the spot is for people to have a plan when and if they test positive for the virus and to go to their doctor, as acting fast (presumably getting Paxlovid, but again, not named) can help minimize the risk.

Despite a little fun in the hot-potato-like tossing of the spiky COVID-19 ball, the tone is mostly serious; after all, for these four and anyone who has the same issues, COVID-19 can be deadly. It’s a stark contrast to the rather silly mania of Pfizer’s recent booster ad, “Unwelcome Guest” featuring Martha Stewart.

The new, mostly unbranded spot, except for a tiny little “From the people at Pfizer” at the end, sends the viewer to the also mostly unbranded website. The site ditches most of the celebs (they show up as a visual and a link) for normal people with normal stories. There’s a video here as well featuring a diverse group of people with diverse underlying conditions—mostly the same as the celebrities, but this video is all voice-over.

As COVID-19 (thankfully) fades into being a nuisance for the average healthy person, it’s important to remind people that it is still dangerous. For Pfizer, with its vaccine Comirnaty and boosters as well as the the antiviral Paxlovid, it’s also important to remind people about what it has to offer.