Fact Check

Did Pfizer Sponsor the 2023 Grammy Awards?

Contrary to rumor, the company sponsored the entire ceremony, not any specific performance.

Published Feb 8, 2023

 (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
Image Via Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Claim:
Pfizer sponsored the 2023 Grammy Awards.

At the 2023 Grammy Awards show on Feb. 5, 2023, Sam Smith and Kim Petras won an award for Best Pop Duo for their song "Unholy," respectively becoming the first non-binary person and transgender woman to win the award. They later performed the song during the awards ceremony.

Many conservative politicians, figures, and publications called the performance "satanic" or "demonic." CBS, which broadcast the ceremony, later deleted a tweet that looked forward to the performance, which said, "We are ready to worship."

Several videos of the performance had also gone viral, urging viewers to watch until the end when Pfizer was shown to be a sponsor. While not sponsoring any specific performance, the company was one of many sponsors for the entire awards ceremony. We therefore rate claims about the ceremony being sponsored by Pifzer as "True." 

The Grammy Awards have long relied on sponsors for the entire ceremony. Some companies have sponsored it for years, including Hilton Hotels and People. Unlike Pifzer, both brands were official partners for this year's ceremony, meaning they provided a specific service for the awards ceremony. Hilton was the ceremony's official hotel partner, while People was the official magazine partner.

"We sponsored the overall Grammy's event, but not any specific performance," said Steven Danehy, Pfizer's director of global media relations, in an email to Snopes. "So, no, Pfizer did not specifically sponsor that individual performance." Pfizer is one of three companies that has provided vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such has been a target of anti-vax activists.

The Grammys have rarely included sponsorships for individual performances. Variety reported Target sponsored a live music video of Gwen Stefani's "Make Me Love You" during a commercial break at the 2016 award ceremony. Smith's and Petras' performance was part of the actual awards ceremony

LGBTQ+ performers being criticized for links to satanism is not new. After Lil Nas X released his music video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," as well as limited-edition customized Nike sneakers branded "Satan Shoes," right-wing figures and media companies also expressed outrage. (Nike later settled with the maker of the shoes after the company sued for trademark infringement.)

Sources

52nd GRAMMY Sponsors Announced. https://www.grammy.com/news/52nd-grammy-sponsors-announced. Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Lenker, Margaret. "Grammys: Gwen Stefani Performs Live Music Video in Target Commercial." Variety, 16 Feb. 2016, https://variety.com/2016/music/news/gwen-stefani-grammys-live-music-video-target-1201706800/.

Porter, Tom. "MTG, Tucker Carlson, and Donald Trump Jr Are Stoking a Moral Panic over Sam Smith Dressing as Satan at the Grammys." Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/conservatives-kim-petras-sam-smith-satan-unholy-grammy-devil-2023-2. Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Robertson, Adi. "Nike Sues over Lil Nas X's 'Unauthorized Satan Shoes.'" The Verge, 29 Mar. 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/29/22357225/nike-sues-lil-nas-x-unauthorized-satan-shoes-mschf.

Romano, Aja. "Lil Nas X's Evil Gay Satanic Agenda, Explained." Vox, 29 Mar. 2021, https://www.vox.com/22356438/lil-nas-x-satan-shoes-nike-montero-video-gay-agenda-christian-controversy.

SAM SMITH on Twitter: "This Is Going to Be SPECIAL ???? #GRAMMYs @RecordingAcad @kimpetras Https://T.Co/OIA0dhP8bm" / Twitter. 6 Feb. 2023, http://web.archive.org/web/20230206171713/https://twitter.com/samsmith/status/1622338593808158720.

The Recording Academy Partners With Top Brands For The 2023 GRAMMYs. https://www.grammy.com/news/2023-grammys-brands-partners-announcement. Accessed 7 Feb. 2023.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.

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