Calexis

On a recent visit to Florida, I ended up seeing a lot of pharmaceutical commercials for all manner of pharmaceutical products that I had no idea about.

The commercials all have a similar pattern.  They introduce a product name, all seem to be something like “Prolaxatrol,” or some other made up name that might suggest the general drug or not.

This is followed by the recommendation, “Ask your doctor about Prolaxatrol.  You too may be suffering from Dormant RLQ”

This is usually followed by a smiling senior who opines that “Prolaxatrol, has changed my life.  Ask your doctor about Prolaxatrol.”

All this is pretty predictable, but what follows next is a victory of the creative teams over the lawyers.  Typically the woman, or man, will be seen enjoying various interesting activities, playing with puppies, bowling, learning dance steps, that sort of thing.

All these activities are designed to get your undivided attention so you won’t listen to the legal disclaimers that are listed off over these activities.

As the happy couple learns a new Latin dance, goes for a bike ride, walks on the beach, and so on, the announcer quickly goes through the drug’s side effects for the next 30 seconds.

These side effects might include anything from a rash, anal leakage, even sudden death.  This copy is required by the lawyers to advise potential users of all the detrimental side effects that might come.

Users are so advised to eliminate any potential lawsuits based on those side effects.  For these reasons for approval of the script, the lawyers will want all these side effects included.

The fact that the viewer is totally distracted from listening to them is a victory for the advertiser.  But maybe the lawyers are complicit in this.  All the lawyers want is plausible deniability – the ability to say that the information was widely distributed as part of the product advertising.

But there is no accounting for the distractions that good creative can provide.  The distraction not only takes attention away from the possible harm, it presents a warm, happy, active couple leading the life that everyone would want to lead if they were suffering from whatever ailment the drug is supposed to treat.

Someone must have been dancing for the lawyers to get away with this.  And once one company does it, we all realize what we can get away with.

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