Pfizer aims to inject youth into the aging process

Jul 17 2014, 15:09 IST
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To that list of acronyms, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer hopes to add FOGO, a.k.a. fear of getting old. To that list of acronyms, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer hopes to add FOGO, a.k.a. fear of getting old.
SummaryTo that list of acronyms, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer hopes to add FOGO, a.k.a. fear of getting old.

Acronyms seem to be growing more prevalent in the vernacular, among them BOGO, for buy one, get one; YOLO, you only live once; and FOMO, fear of missing out. To that list, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer hopes to add FOGO, a.k.a. fear of getting old.

Pfizer — No. 51 on the Fortune 500, with revenue last year of $53.8 billion — is promulgating FOGO as it refocuses an initiative, carrying the theme “Get old,” that was introduced in 2012. The initiative, intended to stimulate conversations on subjects like aging and longevity of life, is being augmented, beginning on Wednesday, with additional content that is online and on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Signaling this push are the introduction of a hashtag, #FOGO, and a decision by Pfizer to bring in Huge, an agency that specializes in digital advertising, to create and produce the new content. (The original work was created by SS&K in New York.)

“Conquer your fears of getting old at getold.com,” consumers will be urged. “Fear less. Live longer.” There is also a “#FOGO Quiz” that offers this advice: “It’s time to tell the truth about aging. The less you fear it, the more you’ll enjoy it. In fact, it can be the best time of your life. So join us and get old with a new attitude.” Pfizer is spending about $3 million a year on the “Get old” initiative, which is meant to help burnish the Pfizer image rather than promote Pfizer prescription drugs or over-the-counter products. It is only lightly branded, carrying small advisories that read, “Brought to you by Pfizer.”

The company’s image may need a little polishing after Pfizer recently abandoned an effort to buy a competitor, AstraZeneca. That acquisition could have included a relocation to Britain, where AstraZeneca is based, from New York, where Pfizer was founded in 1849, for tax purposes. Pfizer executives may have wanted to reach for one of their products, Advil, after reading reactions to the takeover bid like this one in the July 21 issue of Time magazine by Rana Foroohar, assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business: “The deal made little strategic sense and probably would have destroyed thousands of jobs as well as slowed research at both companies. (Public outcry to that effect eventually helped scuttle the plan.)” The article’s headline by itself could have brought on headaches: “Wall Street’s Values Are Strangling American Business.”

Robert

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