The FDA approval, granted early today, follows the emergency use authorization given to Pfizer last December. The new official approval is for vaccine use in individuals who are 16 and older. Despite the emergency approval, many Americans have resisted getting the vaccine. Some three in 10 unvaccinated adults have said they are more likely to get the vaccine if it received full FDA approval, according to a June survey from nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
Those 3 out of 10 individuals will be a key target in Pfizer’s marketing push, according to Saba, who recently co-authored “Brand Plan Rx: The Marketer’s Guide to Building a Thriving Health and Wellness Brand.” He adds that Pfizer will also have to reinforce the vaccine’s value to those who have already received the shot now that a booster shot is expected.
“They don’t want to lose anyone,” Saba says. “Pfizer has to communicate in a way that is very respectful and trusting, they want to build trust.”
While the Comirnaty brand name may seem odd, Saba says the name may be a result of trying to tie in words like “immunity,” and “community” to better convey such trust. He expects Pfizer may try to explain the name in its commercials, which will be fairly serious in tone.
Consumers are warming to vaccines
Consumers appear to be warming up to COVID-19 vaccines as more businesses and organizations issue mandates. A recent Ad Age-Harris Poll found that more than half of Americans surveyed say they are more likely to shop in-store at companies that require employee vaccinations.
Pfizer’s direct-to-consumer Comirnaty vaccine marketing should be days away, according to experts. The drugmaker’s brand team has likely been working on a campaign in parallel to the FDA submission, according to George Sillup, chair and associate professor of pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing at Saint Joseph’s University.
“You have that in the can—you’re ready to go, you don’t start at that initial point there’s much more pre-planning on this by the brand team,” he says, noting a rush to beat competitor Moderna. “If you’ve got it, Moderna can’t be that far behind, capitalize on it and get out there as fast as you can.”
Indeed, according to the New York Times, FDA approval for Moderna’s vaccine could be weeks away. That vaccine, which like Pfizer’s is a two-shot mRNA inoculation, will be marketed as Spikevax.
The difference in names between Comirnaty and Spikevax is similar to the difference between competitors Viagra, made by Pfizer, and Cialis, the erectile dysfunction-treating drugs, according to Saba, who formerly worked at Cialis drugmaker Eli Lilly. He notes that like Viagra, Spikevax is a bolder marketing choice. Cialis, which was released after Viagra, pursued a more human-centric advertising approach.
“I think Pfizer will come out with more of a Cialis tone to it—respectful,” Saba says.