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Will Pfizer's COVID Vaccine Marketing Push Pay Off?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Sep 12, 2021 at 6:57AM

Key Points

  • Some signs indicate that Pfizer could mount a significant marketing campaign for COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty.
  • In the short term, marketing for the vaccine probably isn't needed.
  • Over the longer term, though, Pfizer's strategy could pay off by differentiating its vaccine from those of rivals.

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It could over the long run.

One key difference between a product that has received full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval versus Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is that it can be marketed in a bigger way. That seems to be Pfizer's (PFE -0.74%) plan for Comirnaty now that the COVID-19 vaccine has full FDA approval. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Sept. 1, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether or not Pfizer's marketing push for the vaccine will pay off.

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Keith Speights: There are some signs that Pfizer is preparing to launch a significant advertising campaign for its COVID-19 vaccine, that brand name there is Comirnaty. Brian, what's Pfizer planning here, and do you think this marketing push will pay off?

Brian Orelli: Yeah, so the company has been advertising for sales reps to promote its vaccine, Comirnaty. I think this is probably a long-term strategy here.

Right now, I don't think Pfizer really needs to convince doctors and pharmacies to vaccinate people. But people may be more hesitant to get the annual boosters, especially if the rates go down dramatically in the years to come, so arming doctors with data, that's a lot of what sales reps do in general.

It may be necessary to help the doctors convince their patients to get the booster doses. And then the other important role of sales reps will be to convince doctors and pharmacists to use Comirnaty over Moderna's (MRNA -3.63%) or Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ -0.12%) vaccine, and then of course, any other vaccines that get approved in the future.

I think Pfizer's probably ramping up advertising and sales reps so that it's a big sign that there's probably going to be some competition among the different vaccines in terms of trying to get the doctors and the pharmacists to stock one vaccine over another.

Speights: You and I have talked in the past that we really don't even pay attention to what brand of flu vaccine we get, but this could be a very different market, just some unique dynamics at play here. We really could see this becoming more of a slugfest between these vaccine makers over the long run with COVID-19.

Orelli: We've talked about how we don't really think about it, but I wonder if there are some challenges to try to figure out which vaccine that the doctor, or pharmacist goes to stock. Are the sales reps for flu vaccines that are actually helping increase sales because they are getting the doctor or the pharmacist to order their company's vaccine versus some other company's vaccine.

Then we just go in, we don't care which vaccine we get. Maybe more of that, may not see a whole lot of direct-to-consumer advertising, but we may see a lot of sales reps get hired to try to compete against the different COVID-19 vaccines.

Speights: You could be right. Although I will say this is just anecdotal here. Over the last several months, I would hear people say, "Oh, I want to get the Moderna vaccine or I want to get the Pfizer vaccine, or I want to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine." There is some tribalism to some extent with COVID-19 vaccines that you don't see in other vaccine markets.

Orelli: Yeah, definitely. At least right now, we'll have to see moving on, when we're on booster four or five, whether that's actually the case.

Speights: This will be interesting, but it does sound like we're going to start to see some advertising from Pfizer at least.

Orelli: At least I'll just wait and see whether they have direct-to-consumer advertising budget. They're definitely, it seemed to be hiring sales reps to do advertising to doctors.

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Stock Quote
$50.53 (-0.74%) $0.38
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$178.67 (-0.12%) $0.21
Moderna Stock Quote
$175.74 (-3.63%) $-6.62

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