Pfizer  : Mounting a challenge

Online is integrated into a corporate takeover strategy.

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The feature

Pfizer, US-based pharmaceuticals group, has wired online support into its campaign to bring about a merger with a competitor.

Pfizer’s group home page has various links related to its announcement that it is seeking to ‘combine’ with a UK rival, AstraZeneca. As well as two press releases dated Monday April 28, the day of the announcement, these include four under a For Investors heading that relate to an investor and analyst call on the 28th (Press Release, Audio Webcast, Presentation and Transcript). Sitting above these is a link to a dedicated website ( under the heading ‘Pfizer Confirms Prior Discussions with AstraZeneca’.

The dedicated site opens in a new secondary window and features a chief executive video and ‘possible offer’ download on its home page along with an Email Alert Sign Up. There are separate News & Media and Investors sections with tailored contacts as well as content, but no sharing tools. The video is not included on the company’s YouTube channel and there is no coverage of the ‘combination’ news in its other social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare, LinkedIn).

The takeaway

The launch of Pfizer’s dedicated ‘combination’ site on the same day as that of its renewed interest in making a bid for its UK rival is a clear indication that use of the web has been thought of within the communications strategy and its scope has been carefully considered. While the home page caters well for the increase in traffic to the dotcom site that the news will have initially triggered, the dedicated site will come more into its own as the courtship campaign progresses. It provides a working repository for the growing body of material associated with the campaign and which will gradually have to cede its prominence on the home page. For its chief long-term audiences – journalists, analysts and investors – it will become a useful and readily accessible real-time information kit.

Pfizer’s reluctance to bring use of social media into the strategy is something of a curiosity. It may in part be due to legal restrictions (related to different regulatory regimes globally), though AstraZeneca manages to have a link on its Twitter feed to its press release about the issue. Pfizer’s lack of investor and media feeds may be another factor if those are deemed its prime audiences, but the absence of material on sympathetic platforms such as Slideshare and YouTube perhaps reflects an element of expediency in putting together the online elements of the campaign.
First published 29 April, 2014
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