Pfizer's "Get Old" campaign gets youthful

Pfizer updates its "Get Old" campaign
Pfizer updates its "Get Old" campaign

Three years after its launch, Pfizer's “Get Old” campaign continues to evolve and seek new ways to convey health-related information to consumers in a way that is provocative enough that it doesn't get lost.

Pfizer communications VP Sherry Pudloski told MM&M that consumers expect such information from a pharmaceutical company but news about vitamins and eating well “can become wallpaper.”

The overriding message is that age is empowering. The campaign, which was developed by Huge, conveys this message through imagery that includes a balding couple on a first date and a middle-aged woman in sports gear with the word Rookie written across the image as well as a website that includes articles like “80-year-old graduates from college with honors alongside two of her grandchildren.”

In addition, advocacy groups have shared Pfizer's “Get Old” materials, and the drugmaker also uses paid media to promote the outreach. While Pudloski said feedback to the campaign has been positive, she also noted that corporate reputation campaigns like Pfizer's do more than create a feeling of goodwill—she said research shows that cultivating a positive corporate reputation has been shown to improve balance sheets.

A poll conducted on behalf of Pfizer found the campaign was associated with a 45% to 55% uptick in how consumers felt about Pfizer's reputation as a trustworthy company. She said the campaign also helps Pfizer attract potential employees.

As part of the campaign's fourth refresh, which expands on last year's social-media push that included the hashtag #FOGO, which stands for fear of getting old, there is a Twitter account, a Facebook page and a video titled Commencement.

The effort to make aging feel less Golden Years and more upbeat is not a new strategy—AARP banished the words “retired persons” from its name, changing it from the American Association of Retired Persons to AARP.

Pfizer's refresh runs along these lines. Pudloski said that stress for 30- to 50-year-olds, which includes building careers and raising and caring for families, are generally considered “troughs of misery” and that stress gives way to different stresses and opportunities when people reach their 60s.

She said this is when people start to feel like they have a new beginning. The campaign, which includes a video that likens graduation to a new era, shows that “milestones in life don't end when you send your kid off to get married.”

The campaign is also tied to the drugmaker's evolution. CEO Ian Read took over for Jeff Kindler after a 2011 departure that included revelations about executive compensation and inefficient management, according to Fortune. This was in addition to a list of reputation-related legal issues like Pfizer's 2009 $2.3-billion settlement over the marketing of anti-inflammation drug Bextra and a $14.1-million settlement for illegally marketing the overactive bladder medication Detrol, among others.

Pudloski said one of Read's early goals was to shore up the firm's reputation. “We had great relationships with policymakers and advocacy groups … but what we really hadn't been doing was communicating and building relationships with consumers,” she explained.

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