GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Canada has roped in both older and younger versions of Wayne Gretzky for a new ad for its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine Arexvy.
The 30-second video ad features a young, AI-generated Wayne Gretzky cautioning his older self today about the dangers of RSV, particularly for older adults.
The RSV vaccine ad has the now 62-year-old hockey legend looking into a mirror and seeing his younger self, specifically an AI-generated 20-year-old version of himself.
In the ad, Gretzky Jr. asks Gretzky Sr. how they did in the big leagues to which Gretzky Sr. laughingly replies, “We did OK.”
Young Gretzky advises present-day Gretzky that he did a good job taking care of “them,” but that they can’t stop now. He says RSV can not only affect kids, but it can seriously impact older people too. Case in point, GSK’s Arexvy, the first approved vaccine for RSV, is currently only approved for adults 60 years of age and older.
He tells Gretzky Sr. to protect against RSV and “get your shot.”
GSK hopes to ramp up uptake of its newly minted RSV vaccine, which received approval from Health Canada in August this year after its US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in May.
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A spokesperson from GSK Canada told Fierce Pharma Marketing that the ad aims to dispel the misperception that RSV is only a concern for young children. It encourages older adults to get the RSV vaccine because they are at a high risk of developing complications from infection with the virus.
“The creative concept comes from the idea of wishing you could give your younger self advice and flipping that on its head by featuring a conversation between Wayne and his younger self, where it’s his younger self sharing information about RSV that is important for older adults to understand,” said the spokesperson.
GSK Canada said many Canadians grew up watching the Canadian icon play hockey, and to see him in an ad like this is a good way to grab people’s attention about a potentially serious health issue for older adults and how they can protect themselves.
The company said when they were thinking about notable Canadians over the age of 60 for the RSV vaccine ad, “Wayne Gretzky immediately came to mind, and we were pleased to partner with him on this campaign knowing the impact he has made on Canadians throughout his career.”
To create young Gretzky in the RSV vaccine ad, Anthony Chelvanathan, CCO at Edelman, lead agency on the project explained that, “After filming Wayne and an actor portraying his younger self, we trained an AI program to analyze real images and videos of young Wayne Gretzky, around the time he was drafted into the NHL, an iconic time in Wayne’s life and one that most 60-year-olds will remember.”
“We were able to access archival footage of Wayne from his younger years to ensure the AI-generated version of Wayne was as accurate as possible,” he said. “This AI program then developed a realistic version of 20-year-old Wayne Gretzky with facial features and a voice to match. We worked with audio house Grayson Matthews to smooth out the voice of the AI in post.”
Earlier this year, GSK teamed up with another star athlete for one of its first Arexvy ads. That ad featured basketball legend Magic Johnson raising awareness about RSV. The ad was launched right on the heels of the FDA approval of Arexvy.