Advertising II

Yesterday’s post about television advertising brought back some memories.

Many years ago I remember seeing American TV ads for something called Rogaine. With Minoxidil (or so the ad stated). It sounded great, but nowhere in the commercial was it stated just what the drug was for. And I had no idea what either Rogaine or Minoxidil were. This was pre-internet, so I couldn’t just look it up online.

The ads featured young men singing the praises of Rogaine and what it had done for them. It was obviously a miracle drug. There was a toll-free number to call for more information, or you could just “ask your doctor.”

The toll-free number wouldn’t work from Canada, and I wasn’t going to ask my doctor, just in case the question would make me look foolish. So I was left in suspense until the next time I visited the US, and I was able to call the toll-free number.

You know it was a long time ago when I tell you I called from a phone booth, using a pay phone that is no longer there. Not that here are many pay phones left anywhere, but that is a story for another day.

After the call I was still left in suspense. The operator at the company that made Rogaine was quite happy to refer me to a doctor for consultation – but would not tell me what Rogaine was supposed to treat. That was supposed to be between me and the doctor. My explanation that I didn’t want to waste the doctor’s time if I didn’t need the drug fell on deaf ears. I declined the referral.

Several years later I found out that Rogaine is a hair loss treatment. I don’t know why they couldn’t have told me that over the phone. I didn’t need it at the time. Today I have a lot less hair than I once did, but in such matters I am happy to let nature take its course. Hair loss treatment seems to me to be allied more with 19th century snake oil salesmen than serious medicine.

The experience though certainly didn’t convince me of the value of advertising prescription drugs on television. Maybe I’m just not the right audience. Not gullible enough.

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