Pfizer at Essence Fest: Celebrating and Connecting with the Black Community

Be where the community is. Listen. Learn. That's how we raise awareness about the importance of vaccinations.

Advancing equitable health outcomes is one of the key pillars of Pfizer’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy. To bring about real change in underserved communities, we must go where they are, listen to their needs, and connect with them in a relatable way. That’s why Pfizer went all in at the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture, the largest African American culture and music event in the U.S. celebrating Black women. After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the festival returned with a vengeance this year. More than half a million people gathered in New Orleans, where multigenerational Black women shared and bonded over important topics, including personal development, wealth creation, civic engagement, and community leadership. This year, Pfizer was a part of the conversation.

Pfizer brand ambassadors at Essence Fest booth

Pfizer brand ambassadors Deonna Smith, Sandy Jaquez, William Smith, K. Micole Moffett at our Essence Fest booth.

With the pandemic still affecting every part of society, vaccine hesitancy in the Black community remained a challenge. We wanted to have conversations with the community where they felt safe and understood and address their concerns with transparency and respect.

We sponsored a panel discussion featuring global singer and songwriter, Kelly Rowland from supergroup Destiny’s Child, macro influencer and former pharmacist, Brittney Fusilier, and pediatrician, Dr. Kersha Pennicott. The panelists discussed their personal experiences and the choices they made surrounding their family’s health amid COVID–19. We continued the conversation with the festival participants at our Pfizer booth located in the Essence Health Hub. We intentionally chose not to have any Pfizer vaccine branding. Visitors to the booth participated in an interactive quiz on Essence Festival, Black History, and COVID–19 and received educational resources on COVID–19 and the importance of vaccinations including boosters.

We also partnered with micro influencers—Lauren Wilson, Madelyn Brené, and Titilola-Sogunro—to help spark social media conversations on COVID–19 vaccinations and encourage attendees to visit the booth and meet Pfizer colleagues. Ramcess Jean-Louis, Pfizer’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, members of the Global Black Community colleague resource group, and leaders from across Pfizer were there to share their own unique experiences with festivalgoers.

“Women are often what we call the ‘Chief Health Officers’ of their families,” said Zainab Wasti, Pfizer's U.S. COVID–19 Vaccine Consumer Experience Lead. “Being at Essence was such an important opportunity to meaningfully connect with Black women who are at the center of making healthcare decisions for themselves, their children, and their parents. We listened to their stories and we learned. And we will continue to do so in order to better serve them.”

“So many women watched our panel and came to our booth sharing the impact that vaccinations have had on their lives,” said Kathryn Simmons, Pfizer Area Business Manager, Internal Medicine. “Being able to see one another in person, to look one another in the eye, helped us build trust. I’m overjoyed that we were able to make this moment happen for so many Black women who represent the communities we serve across the country.”

“At Pfizer, we believe we should all feel seen, heard, and cared for. We should feel safe to connect with one another as human beings, with respect and honesty. Partnering with Essence Fest gave us an amazing opportunity to celebrate Black women and Black health, wealth, beauty, joy, culture, and purpose,” said Ramcess Jean-Louis. “It was often overwhelming to hear the attendees of the festival come to our booth, some in tears, to express their gratitude, describe their journeys, and reflect on the role that Pfizer and the vaccine have played for them and their loved ones. We were able to make so many connections and show up authentically as a trusted partner and ally in the community.”

Pfizer plans to continue its sponsorship of Essence Festival again in 2023 and will continue to engage the community where they are.