It’s been a long time since a commercial has inspired such seething loathing in me that I felt a need to blog about it to get it off my chest. As someone who plays online games quite a bit, I am frequently subjected to repeated ads. In the Facebook platform especially, it’s often common practice to show ads in exchange for something needed in the game that you don’t necessarily want to pay for, like energy or in-game currency, so it’s not like I’m being stuck with these ads unwillingly, though I occasionally wonder what they make my poor browser history look like. The ad that’s been bothering me for the past few weeks is for a product I’m sure is a godsend to those who need it, but still is quite probably the most annoying piece of adwork I’ve ever had the misfortune to sit through.
I’m not a fan of pharmaceutical commercials. I firmly believe they inspire a certain subset of individuals to look for medical problems where there are none. As for people who actually have serious medical conditions, I believe a doctor is the best source of information about treatment options, not some video ad you came across on the web, and the ads in question come off as being in poor taste at best and crass at worst. The particular ad that’s setting my teeth on edge is for a drug intended for sufferers of multiple sclerosis. MS is a serious condition. I know people who have it, and it’s no walk in the park. I’m not against showing ads for such products as would help people live better lives, but I really have a problem with commercials that don’t show a sense of respect for their intended audience, and this one doesn’t. It’s for a medication called Gilenya, and it’s the most cheese-gratingly irritating commercial I’ve ever seen. Set to a repetitive, two-note soundtrack that sounds like a cheap drum machine attached to some kid’s Simon game, it features a series of people sticking out their tongues with the pill somehow attached to them. It’s a silly, immature approach that kicks my last nerve in the pants. I’m gonna be honest. Tongues are gross. Unless you’re Gene Simmons, you should probably keep yours in your mouth at all times. And we have a yellow-and-white pill stuck to said tongues looking like the mother of all abscesses. “Take this, you bully,” the subjects bravely intone, but they have pills on their tongues so it’s more like a defiant lisp. It doesn’t feel empowering, it feels childish and silly. Think of it this way. What if this ad was for a cancer drug? People would be pretty upset about a commercial making cancer patients look this twee. So why is it okay for MS patients?
I’m making a major admission. I have been helped immensely in my own life by a prescription for a different condition, and I have certain expectations about advertising for something of such a serious nature. I don’t want to see a commercial for a pharmaceutical product that doesn’t have a sense of respect for me as a person. Apparently this ad campaign has been going on for awhile, since most media relating to it is about a year old, and the gist of most of the press material I’ve read (yes, I hate this commercial so much I’ve been researching it) is that these ads are supposed to appeal to a younger, hipper audience. I’m young enough to appreciate the effort of courting a more youthful audience, but youthfulness does NOT equate to outright goofiness when approaching the subject of my health. I’m sure the intended tone is light-hearted and upbeat, but it doesn’t come across that way. It comes across as embarrassingly disrespectful of its target, and I hate it. It’s the worst. I mean it. Worst. Ad. Campaign. Ever. I’m not even linking to the ad. I despise it that much. If I’m sick, I want to be treated like a grownup, dammit, and even if MS is not the condition that affects my own health, I have enough respect for its sufferers not to be patronizing. It’s a shame that not even a major pharmaceutical outfit gets that.