Pfizer's "Swiss Army Knife of PR" stresses science, responsibility

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Pfizer's "Swiss Army Knife of PR" stresses science, responsibility
Pfizer's "Swiss Army Knife of PR" stresses science, responsibility
Pfizer redesigned its annual review as part of a rolling rebranding exercise aimed at personalizing the company, emphasizing corporate responsibility and stressing the scientific prowess of a giant better known for its marketing.

The two-sided 2009 booklet reflects the motto “Pfizer: where life meets science.” It can be read from front-to-back or back-to front.

“They're different starting points,” says John Santoro, VP, stakeholder communications at Pfizer. “You can start on the ‘Life' side and see how Pfizer is improving life on a lot of levels for people around the world, or you can start on the ‘Science' side and get very specific about Pfizer science, particularly the new areas we're in with the Wyeth acquisition, notably vaccines and other kinds of biotherapeutics.”

Trumpeting that pharma/biotech one-two punch is a key message.

“One of the great things about Pfizer now is that we can attack a disease from two different sides,” adds Santoro. “We can attack it from the traditional small molecule chemistry side that was typical of Pfizer for a long time, and we can attack it from the biological side. For Alzheimer's, we're taking both approaches through a variety of channels.”

The companion website features video interviews with four Pfizer execs, including a sales rep (“Life”) and eight scientists (“Science”).

“People know Pfizer quite well as a commercial company,” says Santoro, “but we also have 14,000 scientists around the world doing leading-edge work, so one of the elements of the annual review is to introduce people to our scientists in a very special way.”

Corporate responsibility is another theme, with sections playing up the company's charitable efforts, such as its support of the International Trachoma Initiative with 200 million donated doses of Zithromax, or its efforts to reduce the use of chemicals in manufacturing.

“We are working very hard to demonstrate to people that this is a company that takes corporate responsibility very seriously around the world and in ways they may not fully understand. The annual review, which incorporates the company's annual report, is the “Swiss Army Knife of communications,” says John Santoro, VP, stakeholder communications at Pfizer.

“This is our signature communications piece,” says Santoro. “It's a thing you can use anywhere and with any audience,” from Capitol Hill to college recruitment. Traffic spikes sharply around its release, with the annual report, but the company has seen smaller spikes when colleges let out in the spring and when business students go back to school in the fall.

New York agency Ideas On Purpose executed the design.

It's of a piece with a larger postmerger rebranding effort which has included tweaking the company logo and a global corporate ad campaign, the second wave of which is rolling out now, with the tagline “Working together for a healthier world.”

The company is also doing more outreach through social media, including daily news updates through Twitter, a Facebook page and the use of YouTube clips featuring scientists for clinical trial recruitment.

“Like a lot of companies, we want to build trust with the folks that we serve,” says Santoro, “and I think people have expectations of companies like Pfizer that are above and beyond the expectations of most other companies. So it's a trust-building exercise, and we've come a long way in integrating the reporting on responsibility into our entire business outlook reporting.”

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