(The Defender) Pfizer and Marvel’s “Avengers” are co-promoting Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster vaccines with the Oct. 4 release of a customized comic book.
Just as the “Avengers” repeatedly kept the world safe from the fictional supervillain Ultron, people need to protect themselves by updating their COVID-19 vaccination with the latest booster, according to the promotional comic.
Pfizer announced the new comic book in a tweet:
When Ultron wreaks havoc, the Avengers act as the first line of defense. People can help protect themselves by staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. Head to https://t.co/PfNUYTZlkj to get a first look at Pfizer, BioNTech, and Marvel’s comic book! pic.twitter.com/hwhRateYIB
— Pfizer Inc. (@pfizer) October 4, 2022
The new comic, “Everyday Heroes,” shows Ultron — who represents COVID-19 as it keeps evolving — attacking and being successfully fended off by the Avengers — who represent the different Pfizer vaccinations — while a grandpa and his family are waiting at a nearby clinic to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The story concludes with pictures of the Avengers and the family displaying bandages on their left arms, showing they got a Pfizer shot.
In addition to the superhero scenes, Pfizer added a page in the comic both before and after the story that shows people of different professions.
“What makes them everyday heroes?” one of the pages reads. “They know what to do to help defend against COVID-19.”
And the comic includes a banner — accompanied by a scannable QR code containing COVID-19 vaccination information provided by Pfizer — that reads, “Vaccinate and stay up-to-date with the latest recommended booster and be an everyday hero!”
The marketing collaboration comes amid sluggish uptake in the U.S. and Europe of Pfizer’s fall Omicron-specific booster shots, according to the Daily Mail, which on Oct. 6 reported that fewer than 1 in 20 eligible Americans had received the shot.
According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 7.6 million Americans have opted to get the updated booster dose as of Sept. 28 — almost one month since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Aug. 31 granted Emergency Use Authorization for the new Pfizer and Moderna boosters and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Sept. 1 authorized the shots.
Citing data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Reuters on Oct. 7reported that in the EU, weekly vaccine doses administered were ranging from around 1 million to 1.4 million in September.
Pfizer’s enlistment of Marvel’s Avengers comes after the U.S. Congress opted to not pass additional COVID-19 funding, signaling that the U.S. government will no longer be the primary purchaser of its COVID-19 vaccines.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla downplayed the potential negative impact the government decision might have on his company’s bottom line, stating that Pfizer’s shift into the private market will allow the drugmaker to be “even more competitive” and that its commercial skills are “even better suited” in an open market than in a government-contracting model.
Last month, Pfizer and Moderna aired new direct-to-consumer (DTC) TV commercials promoting their products — but they had to “play with cool with the branding side of things” because neither company’s fall COVID-19 booster vaccine has full FDA approval.
On Sept. 8 the day before the NFL season kicked off, Pfizer launched its booster ad, known as “More,” which features a narrator, speaking in rhyme, about the “normal” things that happen in everyday life with the tagline, “the more you want to do, the more we want to do.”
Moderna also aired a booster ad in time for the NFL season.
Moderna’s 15-second ad, “Get Boosted this Fall,” features text on a colored background that states, “We’re sick of COVID, but we don’t want to get sick with COVID, either” and then urges people to get their boosters.
Moderna’s logo is visible at the bottom throughout the ad, and the company carries over part of its logo within the text as an extra layer of promotion.
In the second quarter of 2022, Moderna generated $4.7 billion in sales, a 9% increase over the same period last year.
So far in 2022, Pfizer has spent more than $100 million in advertising.