Need a break? Too much going on in your life, and you just need to veg out for a while? Kick back, turn on the TV. You pick the channel, it doesn’t matter.
Because your relaxation will be interrupted. Probably by a telemarketer–but that’s a subject for a different post. No, I’m talking about the commercials. Specifically, the drug commercials.
Annoying as all get-out, aren’t they? Most likely you don’t have the condition the drug they’re touting is intended to cure. Even if you do, the list of side effects would make any rational person flee in terror.
I’m especially confused by the ads that say “Don’t take this if you’re allergic to it.” How are you supposed to know you’re allergic to it unless you’re already taking it?.
But I digress.
What really puzzles me about the whole phenomenon is how many people think this is new.
It’s not. Consider Allan Sherman’s classic paen to one class of medical ads from 1963:
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Disturbing scenes of body parts you’d rather not see. Appeals to bypass authority. Untested claims of efficacy.
Replace “Bayer Aspirin” with “Otezla” and the only way the audience could tell the difference between the 1960 commercial and the 2019 commercial would be that the older one is in black and white*.
* Anyone else remember seeing “The following program is brought to you in glorious, living color” on a black and white TV set?
Bottom line, this kind of ad has built more than fifty years of inertia. That means they must work, or the advertisers would have tried something different. And that means they’re not going away, no matter how many people scream for legislation.
Let’s face it: Allan had it right. The only way to ensure you’ll never be bothered by a drug ad again is to eat your TV.
I find them bizarre. Several mornings a week, I watch CNN or MSNBC while working out, and the range of (happily unknown to me) diseases and maladies addressed by multisyllabic medications is downright scary.
No problem, though. We’re shown, in every one of them. healthy, happy, silver-haired people playing with (one assumes) their grandchildren, or strolling, hand in hand, on a deserted beach, somewhere. Nothing to worry about, Seniors; we’ve got this…and then, comes the list of side effects and possible complications and warnings- but who pays attention to those?
I’m pretty sure the only people who pay attention to those disclaimers are the people who read every word of software licenses. Which is to say, very bored lawyers.