Sunday, April 29, 2018

Harvoni Ad: "Let's Go" dazzle the public into buying our product

This ad for Harvoni, which I guess is supposed to be a treatment for Hepatitis, is a good example of how all drug commercials function.  So I'm going to pick on it, even though I could have used any of a hundred commercials for any of a hundred medications to make the same point.

Like all big pharma ads, this one includes smiling people moving in slow motion, doing something that has absolutely nothing to do with their condition but which is supposed to illustrate the simple joy of living or provide a metaphor for hope or life or promise or some such poetic treacle.  We see a crowd of zombies who look like they just walked out of the Kingdom Hall walking across a field before watching lanterns float into the night sky. 

There's zero context- why are they doing this?  Do people do this?  I thought this was a Japanese thing- do these people look Japanese?  Is the drug turning them Japanese I really don't think so?

Meanwhile, the dramatic music swells just in time to at least partially drown out the list of potentially fatal side effects casually being read out by the narrator.  And this is why you never hear ads for powerful, dangerous drugs on the radio- it's because the radio is an auditory medium.  There's no way to distract you from hearing about all those awful side effects.  Notice also that the side effects are never listed on the screen- the only words we ever see are the name of the drug and pointless, distracting lines like "I Let Go" and "I Am Cured" which are being spoken anyway.  Oh,  and a brief claim as to the drug's success record.  Seems like the side effects are kind of more important than all that- but the makers of these ads don't want you to note the side effects. Look at the glowing lanterns and smiling people!  Can't do this on the radio.

These ads are all masterpieces of glitz and showy distraction which never have anything do with the actual drug and everything to do with trying to convince your brain that using the drug will lead to a higher level of satisfaction with your life.  In other words, commercials for powerful, chemical-altering drugs have exactly the same message as ads for cars, phones, fast food and detergent.  Scary, no?


  1. When I see grinning robots talking about their great new pill, I remember what someone once said about these ads. They all say "You need this medicince....but this medicine will kill you."

    1. "I take this medicine. How come I'm never doing any of these fun things? Well, at least I am not constantly moving in slow motion or have any of these horrible side effects..."