Pfizer Ditches TV Ads for a Content Approach

Sally Susman, who has been pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s corporate affairs chief for 10 weeks, has already implemented a new plan  to trade in TV ads for content marketing.

With her help, Pfizer has launched, a site where users can log on and find information geared towards their needs. features videos and blog posts from Pfizer employees. It even allows people to log in and share their own stories about aging. After a user puts in his or her dominant emotion (the four one can choose from “angry,” “uneasy,” “optimistic,” or “prepared”), gender, and age, he or she will see specific content that is meant to relate to those qualities.

AdWeek’s Andrew McMains interviewed Susman about the Pfizer strategy. Her main objective is to reach the people, as opposed to the politicians and regulators.

“What we had done in the past in terms of trying to reach elected officials, regulators, some of that is very effective,” she said. “But the missing element was a campaign that went all the way to the public. Does the man on the street have an appreciation for who we are? To be honest and candid, even though sometimes it’s not easy, [people] don’t.”

So far, the reaction to “Get Old” has been positive: The day of the launch, according to Susman, Pfizer got coverage in 15 news stories nationwide and saw “very little cynicism.”

These days, content marketing is trumping traditional advertising in many ways. Pfizer is certainly not an innovator on that front. Brands that have aimed to educate and entertain with content marketing have seen a good response from consumers.

Take Nature Valley, which created a whole website, Trail View. It’s devoted to hiking and national parks, and contains information about the trails as well as photos of them. Pepsi launched a “Live for Now” website this year, which aggregates news from around the internet and social media sites that is aligned with the website’s message.

When crafting content marketing campaigns, Mashable’s Tamsin Hemingray says that marketers need to keep in mind that platforms should always be user friendly: “Content is for people not machines, so you need to make sure that you’re thinking about the user when you’re developing a content strategy. This mind-set is more likely to create things that are useful to consumers and therefore earn attention and shares.” is just that, even though it was made for an entirely different demographic than Pfizer is used to. In a world where the user is gaining more power, and demanding more interactive content, it’s important for content marketers to keep up.

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