Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who triumphed over his 1991 HIV diagnosis, is now taking on RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) as a “compensated spokesperson.”
Pharma company GSK, which expects to release one of the first RSV vaccines later this year, has tapped the 63-year-old basketball legend as the face of “Sideline RSV,” an educational campaign aimed at adults 60+.
“I make my health a priority, and I’m passionate about inspiring others to do the same,” a serious-looking Johnson begins in a :45 second video that follows him walking through the tunnels of a sports arena.
As he prepares to exit the tunnels and the sound of a crowd gets louder, Johnson ends the spot by saying, “My mission in life is to empower older adults to be their own health advocates by putting their health first. Know your risks to help sideline RSV.”
The spot directs viewers to a dedicated website, SidelineRSV.com, which includes oinfo about RSV (i.e, “Older adults, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, and adults with weakened immune systems have an increased risk of severe RSV infection”) and a “learn more” button that takes users to another GSK-run site, RSVandMe.com.
The ”Sideline RSV” campaign -- developed by GSK with Chandler Chicco Agency -- also includes social media content, community-focused events, and what GSK would only label “a variety of educational content to highlight the risks of RSV in older adults, including those with certain underlying conditions.”
While there’s no RSV vaccine yet, you can expect Johnson to support that wholeheartedly. During the NBA’s 75th anniversary season in 2021-2022, Johnson served as a league ambassador and was adamant about the dangers posed by players who wouldn’t get vaccinated against COVID, telling CBS News, “I would never do that to my teammates.”
Earlier this month, an FDA advisory committee backed RSV vaccines for older adults from both GSK and Pfizer. Both companies are also conducting clinical studies of vaccines to protect the disease’s other most vulnerable demo: newborns and infants.