ASA probes Pfizer ad

The Advertising Standards Authority is to investigate a cinema advertisement for pharmaceutical company Pfizer after receiving 50 complaints that the scene showing a man pulling a dead rat from his mouth is distressing.

The ad, created by Langland, launched last month and aims to communicate the dangers of buying drugs online without prescription.

It shows a man falling ill after taking a counterfeit pill with his illness depicted by a scene showing him pulling the body of a dead rat from his mouth.

The ad concludes with the sound of him vomiting in the background before the strapline “Get real, get a prescription.”

An ASA spokesman says complainants find the ad “offensive and distressing”.

“Some complainants also believe the ad is particularly likely to cause distress to people who take legally prescribed medicines that also contain dangerous ingredients,” he says.

Last September, Pfizer rolled out a pan-European digital campaign encouraging people to stop smoking.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here