Advertising I

I may have mentioned that I don’t watch much broadcast television. Too busy with other things to have my life revolve around a schedule I can’t control. Not to mention that I don’t find many of the shows appealing.

On vacation though, things are different, the rhythms of life take a different pattern. Not to mention being in a different location.

At home the television is in the basement. Turning it on requires me to head downstairs with the intention of staying and watching. It is not something done in passing. At home it is the radio that is the backdrop to my household tasks.

However, the cottage we rent for our annual sojourn in Maine is small, and the television is in the living room, which is also the dining room. So it is not unusual, when I leave the beach to make lunch or dinner, to flick the television on, usually to a news channel, and listen while I do what needs to be done.

All of which leads to my thoughts on TV advertising in the USA, particularly the ads for prescription drugs. News junkies obviously have a lot of ailments, as it seemed as if most of the commercials were for some drug or another, none of which I had heard of before.

Drug advertising is very limited in Canada and, I think, pretty much restricted to over the counter medications (with perhaps the exception of erectile dysfunction drugs, for reasons unknown to me). Certainly we don’t have anything like the American ads, where the last 40 seconds of a minute-long commercial will be spent listing side-effects and warnings. This is supposed to encourage me to ask my doctor to prescribe this drug? That the side effects aren’t usually fatal? (Yes, I did hear that correctly.)

I didn’t really pay attention to the ads, so I couldn’t tell you what ailments they were supposed to cure. I guess I am generally pretty healthy and not looking for miracle cures.  What struck me most, because it seemed to be common to all the drugs, was one particular warning.

Every time I heard a commercial, no matter what the medication, at some point in the various disclaimers would be the warning that “people allergic to drug X should not take it.” Every time I heard that I asked myself just who these drugs were being marketed to. Who is so clueless that they need to be told not to take a drug they are allergic to? And what physician would prescribe such medication? What does this say about the collective intelligence of the viewers?unnamed.png

I can only assume that someone is making a lot of money out of these ads – there are so many of them. I guess a gullible public is expected to tell their doctors that they need “Drug X.” I’m just surprised that these drugs don’t come in boxes saying “as seen on TV.” Or maybe they do.

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