Friday, May 15, 2009

Pfizer's new PR strategy - sex for the unemployed!

Unemployed people are about to get more erections.

In the ultimate way to "rise" to the economic crisis, Pfizer is offering free meds, Viagra among them, to unemployed Americans without health insurance. The program, for people who have been unemployed since Jan. 1, and who were taking the meds before they were laid off, is open for enrollment through Dec. 31.

Awwww, isn't that nice of Pfizer?

The reality is that, like any good community-relations PR program, this takes care of a few issues for the company: "helping people out in their hour of need" is one of them, but Pfizer also has to be worried about retaining customers who realize that they don't actually need its meds when they go off them, or - even worse - who go to competitors when they get their health insurance back.

This campaign is a pretty great example of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC): it encompasses publicity, community relations, sales promotions (loyalty!), direct marketing, and perhaps even lobbying: "Hey, Washington, you don't need to regulate our prices: we're giving our meds away to poor people!"

Indeed, it's situations like this where my favorite PR cliche - the "win-win scenario" - was born. And we're seeing more "win-wins" than ever; in fact, companies are going downright refund crazy in their bids to keep us satisfied in "these harsh economic times."

A sampling:
I'm so inspired by these stories, I'm now offering a special to any student who becomes unemployed while taking Creative Communications at Red River College: one, free coffee at Tim Hortons per year until you find a job, at which time you have to pay me back double. Make that double-double.

One more thing: you're welcome for the great lead. Ha!

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