Tuesday, August 10, 2010

truth in advertising

There are a multitude of prescription drug commercials that have dominated American television for the past decade or so, all attempting to coerce the public into a brand-name solicitation of the product with their local practitioner. The majority of these ads are surprisingly similar to one another, consisting of flowery titles superimposed over a gentle, slightly hallucinatory montage of scenes -- blissful people walking hand in hand on a beach, or laughing at the dinner table, or playing frisbee with a dog, all slightly slo-mo -- that play out on the screen while a comforting, motherly voice proceeds to read a litany of the most ghastly possible side effects of the drug:

“Use of Clandesta may cause headache, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, halitosis, flushed skin, water retention, hives, shingles, scurvy, bloating or gas, stomach or intestinal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, lapses in bladder control, gigantic kidney stones, flop sweat, persistent nausea or vomiting, difficulty sleeping, difficulty hearing, difficulty speaking, shortness of breath, blurred or double vision, impotence, infertility, extreme nervousness or restlessness, paranoia, genital warts or blisters, muscle stiffness or weakness, numbness or tingling in the extremities, decreased coordination, shaking, fainting, seizure, hepatitis, jaundice, gout, low blood pressure, ringing in the ears, strange thoughts or dreams, unusual changes in mood, transient hallucination, racing or irregular heartbeat, unstable temperature, entoptic phenomenon, receding hairline or stretch marks, and may also increase the risk of skin, lung, bone, liver and/or rectal cancer.” After which horrific intonation the voiceover always immediately follows with the caveat, "Ask your doctor if Clandesta is right for you." Because hey, stomach cramps aren’t so bad, right?

My favorite is the spot for a sleep aid that states, "Users have been known to experience sudden depression and suicidal thoughts or actions.”

So what they're really saying, if I understand correctly, is that if you search within yourself and find you prefer your insomnia to, say, a purposeful self-inflicted death, then maybe this isn't the drug for you. And to that I offer kudos, guys; right on. We The People would earnestly appreciate that kind of blunt honesty in our advertising whether you were required by Federal law or not. Considering the content of the other eighty-something percent of television commercials we see, I'd say we need it more than ever. Need them both.

The honesty, and the drugs.

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