It’s good to see the world’s biggest drug company, Pfizer, using video to support its mega-bid to buy UK pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca.  And this morning (Monday May 12) they introduced another element into the equation.  A smilier and more human spokesperson.

Chairman and CEO Ian Read’s videos in favour of the bid, reported on BBC News over the weekend, have already been elbowed into the No 2 slot on the company website. And straight in at No 1 is a new set of videos by Mikael Dolsten,  Pfizer’s worldwide president of Research and Development. The difference is that Dolsten has an engaging smile and a much more human style, and brings the arguments to life with stories and mental pictures.

Neither set of videos is perfect.  There’s something surreal about executives filmed in front of electronic heavenly backgrounds as if speaking from Mount Olympus. What’s wrong with a relevant, real background that helps illustrate the story? And their eyelines are both trained to one side, implying that they’re answering questions from an unseen interviewer. They both perform quite well, but it probably means the autocue is on that side. The words sound rather manicured and unspontaneous. Read’s statements are very abstract, his performance is monotonous and lacks warmth. Which is probably why they updated the site with Dolsten’s contribution.

The questions are on full-screen captions, which I always think drains the blood out of a video. And of course, without a real interviewer both execs were able to completely ignore the herd of elephants in the room. How many jobs would they cut in order to achieve the synergies and efficiencies they claim? What guarantees can they give that they won’t close down the UK’s entire drugs R&D industry? And what’s in it for patients?

Having said all that, I’m glad they are at least using video and despite the sterile branding that drug companies favour, their videos do have a modicum of humanity. And aside from the rights and wrongs of the bid, I’d say putting up Dolsten today was a shrewd move. What do you think? You can compare the two performances HERE