Selling Dis-ease

January 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

I realize this entry may not win me many friends in the Pharmaceutical advertising world, but I just have to ask – is anyone else weary of pharmaceutical commercials on TV? Or is it just me?  I find them incessant, often offensive, and insulting to one’s intelligence. Here’s why.

On the rare occasions when I do actually turn on the tube, 9 times out of 10 one drug ad or another is right there with me. Spewing an idea that if you haven’t already had a particular set of horrid symptoms related to some nasty ailment, you soon, undoubtedly, will. And then you will need such and such medication. Which may or may not make you feel better, and which is almost guaranteed to cause an interminable array of god-awful side effects, even death.

All the while, happy medication-takers are shown walking through sun-dappled gardens with ever-so-pleasant music splattering the background reminding us how wonderful we can feel if we take such and such drug – compared to how completely awful you must feel, or will inevitably feel, without taking said meds.

Number one, I’m irritated that these ads are on when I happen to turn on the TV, which isn’t often. Which causes me to think they must be on a lot more than I realize. They are incessant.

Secondly, I find the bulk of the messaging insulting. The messages, in essence, tell you that you have, or will have, one – or several – of a variety of problems. (Tapping into the aging boomer generation no doubt, convincing people of the inevitability of ill health that arrives with age.) You will most likely have this or that sickness. You will suffer. You will have to have medication. You need to see a doctor now before it becomes a reality. If you have a hang nail, it could be a serious sign of A, B , or C disease and if not treated, you will be one miserable old coot. It will be far worse to be plagued by the rampant discomforts these meds will induce than to suffer the fear that you may possibly succumb to one of these health dilemmas.

The insult is the assumption that you don’t have a mind of your own. That you don’t have a clue. That you are easily swayed and you will then surely develop the very symptoms they are suggesting. Maybe even sooner than expected.

This is good old advertising at its best. It’s called hypnosis. The power of suggestion. Persuasion. Repetitive messages delivered to reach your subconscious mind, so that doubt and worry set in. Placing the seed of need in your mind. It makes me so angry I could spit. (I’m not sure where that phrase originates, but it feels heated and angry, doesn’t it.)  In a nutshell, they are basically selling dis-ease and ill-health.

I am not a fan. And it worries me that people are taken in, convinced. (The ads keep running – must be working?)  They will not seek a healthy lifestyle; they will assume they are headed for the worst. They will not consider that the thoughts they think, and the fears they feel, can aid in the manifestation of unwanted experiences. They will believe that they are, or soon will be, very ill. They will need the cabinet full of pills. They will be miserable. Just like the ads’ said.


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