The Viagra TV Commercial Controversy.
Posted by: Don Amerman in Viagra December 26, 2014 Comments Off on The Viagra TV Commercial Controversy 9867 Views.
Viagra has generated plenty of buzz with its advertising.
Viagra is no stranger to controversy.
Pfizer, the manufacturer of Viagra, spent $176 million in 2013 on advertising for the erectile dysfunction drug. One new ad in the US, which has run during NFL and MLB games is different for the company because a woman stars in it. In fact there are no men in it at all. In case you haven’t seen it, you can view the ad here.
This ad represents the first commercial for an erectile dysfunction drug featuring only a woman, played by British actress Linette Beaumont. Not only is it the first time Pfizer has used a woman to sell Viagra, it’s also the first ad where the word “erection” appears someplace other than the swiftly-spoken side effects disclaimer. In fact, she uses the word twice.
The Recent Viagra Ad Starring a Female Spokesperson.
The new ad campaign features a beautiful blonde woman in a sexy blue dress lying on an open-air cabana in a dreamy tropical location. She addresses viewers directly, starting with, “So guys, it’s just you and your honey.” She continues, speaking in a cozy, conversational tone about the fact that many men have trouble getting and / or keeping an erection.
The ad has been dissected by numerous media outlets, including The Hollywood Reporter, The Daily Beast, and The New Yorker. It was even spoofed in a segment by comedian Ellen DeGeneres. Far from being “immune” to advertisements for drugs that treat erectile dysfunction, the American public is still quite attentive, particularly since this one is so different from older commercials.
Is the Ad Targeted Toward Women?
Pfizer says that they hope the new ad will prompt women whose male partners experience erectile dysfunction to broach the subject and encourage them to seek medical advice on the condition. In a sense, the ad is supposed to work on two levels, with men being directly appealed to by a lovely woman with a charming accent and women being indirectly moved to start conversations about the drug with their partners.
However, John Osborn, president of ad agency BBDO, which made the ad, says it’s not really about targeting women, though if it does that’s just fine. Rather, he explains, “This is an example of a very simple, straightforward story well told via an execution that I would say uses direct, honest, compassionate approach to simply let men with E.D. know they are not alone.”
Detractors: The Ad Should Be Removed.
Some people think the ad should be taken off the air. It’s not to do with the fact that a woman is starring in it, but rather the feeling that such a direct and intimate ad is an intrusion on family time spent watching professional sports. Parents frankly don’t like it when they’re watching a game with their kids and are blindsided with an ad for a topic they believe is inappropriate for children. And it’s not necessarily prudishness at the heart of this concern, but rather a feeling of having their family privacy invaded.
Proponents: Grow Up and Let’s Talk About This Like Adults.
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Proponents of the ad say it’s refreshing to see the topic taken on in such a direct manner, and that it is leagues ahead of past ads for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs that relied on sometimes silly double entendres. Levitra, for example, once featured an ad that involved a football being thrown through a tire swing. And people are still a bit puzzled by Cialis’s outdoor, his-and-her bathtubs.
The only other Viagra ad that was as straightforward as the current one in discussing the topic was nonetheless radically different from it: the original Viagra ad that featured former Senator and Presidential candidate Bob Dole. Like the new ad, the message then was: erectile dysfunction can be tough to talk about, but it affects millions of men and their partners, so let’s be adults and address it like adults.
The new ad says, “We’re grown-ups, and we should talk about this.”
Ads for Viagra in Other Countries.
People in the US may be surprised to learn that in other countries, Viagra ads have embraced a more humorous take on erectile problems. Where US ads show men setting up campsites and engaging in manly occupations like commercial fishing, ads in South Africa have shown an older milkman buttoning his jacket back up after leaving a posh mansion – an ad-length wink and nudge. Even in conservative Saudi Arabia, a Viagra television ad featured the hands of a man boldly trying to pierce the lid of his beverage with a straw. These foreign ads clearly imply the feedback loop between pop culture and advertisements, as well as the humor that can be found there.
The Takeaway From All This.
Whether you think of the new Viagra ad as a shameless attempt to draw in the female demographic or an intrepid proclamation that women need to be involved in the discussion (both privately and publicly) about erectile dysfunction, chances are, if you saw the ad on television, you remembered it. Will the new ad lead women to talk to their partners about erectile dysfunction and encourage them to seek help for it? Will it bring home the point to men that erection problems affect women profoundly too? It almost doesn’t matter, because Pfizer succeeded once again in making people talk about Viagra.
Viagra is still a major seller for Pfizer, and in the US at least, that will continue to be the case until the drug reaches the edge of the “patent cliff” in the year 2020. Until that time you can bet the company will continue to provoke and grab people’s attention with their television and other media ads.