A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…well, actually in Texas, I was employed in the advertising industry. Perhaps it is more accurate to call it the ad “game”, given that what we creatively employed a rather loose set of rules when it came to gaming facts. Nothing much has changed.
Advertising isn’t meant to impart the truth, it is meant to move products and services out the door, without being so flagrantly false as to generate a lawsuit. Although no longer a practitioner of the dark craft, I remain an interested student of the art and deception of advertising. Examples abound.
“We’d liked to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony….” if only the world would buy a six-pack of our sugar water and take it to a remote hilltop.
“Wrink-Be-Gone offers advanced appearance correcting anti-aging skin care products that help regenerate skin’s appearance…” and here they present the picture of our 28 year-old, air-brushed model to prove the point to our middle-aged and older target market.
“Park Meadows Senior Housing offers an exceptional living experience for active seniors who are exceptional, active and still living.” To illustrate, they have brochures showing middle-aged models smiling, strolling, swimming, dancing and dining with nary a walker, wheelchair or oxygen bottle in sight.
Amid all of these media messages for sporty cars, trendy beers, game-changing golf clubs, anti-aging diets, fat-burning, ab-hardening, “two-minutes a day” exercising equipment and sure-fire investment advice, is my personal favorite for sheer amusement: erectile dysfunction (ED) medication.
I’ve done a bit of investigating among those in the medical community to determine the causes of this apparent epidemic of flaccidity and whether it is a worldwide crisis or just a U.S. thing. The results were mixed. Apparently, where the drug companies have good distribution networks there is a marked increase in the reported dysfunction. The U.S. has a really, really well-developed prescription drug distribution system and so the prevalence of ED among American men is up, which I would say is perfectly appropriate for this particular health issue. There remains a cause and effect question, however.
Curiously, when asked in national surveys if they use ED medication, the number of American men admitting to doing so is far lower than suggested by the volume sold. Either many of the respondents were untruthful in their answers or those who do admit to being users are taking an average of 75 doses per day. Draw your own conclusions.
On a per capita basis, California men are the heaviest ingesters of Cialis, Viagra, Levitra, Muse, Edex, Staxyn and (my two personal favorites in the name category) Caverject and Caverject Impulse. Keep in mind, however, that the California data is skewed by the Hugh Hefner Effect.
According to the medical literature, the primary causes of ED are advanced age, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, depression, nerve damage, alcoholism, drug abuse or drug interaction.
Let us now turn our attention to the advertising related to ED drugs, particularly to the portrait of the supposed users. In the ads, print and electronic, where even the most mundane touch or glance can result in a lustful beeline for the nearest flat surface or claw footed bath tubs (what’s up with that?), the men can hardly be described as “elderly” unless, of course, the ad agency creative team is populated with 20 somethings who see 42 as the “elderly” tipping point. By the way, all agency creative teams are primarily 20 somethings.
Neither are these men obese with high blood pressure and/or diabetes. None of them are sporting a pack of Marlboros in the shirt pocket nor are they clearly morose with depression. None feature a bulbous, red drinker’s nose nor the vacant stare of a meth head. I suppose that if the ads featured the type of man who truly needs an erectile boost that the women in the ads would run screaming from the photo or commercial shoot.
It’s possible that the male models in these ads only represent men who have nerve damage or drug interaction issues but I’m told that these causes of ED are a small percentage of all erection-challenged males.
There is a good reason that these virile-looking spokesmembers caution that before you take one of the ED drugs that you ask your physician “…if you are healthy enough for sexual activity”. If, indeed, you are one of the men who can’t sufficiently erect because you are an old, fat, depressed, alcoholic smoker with a taste for the occasional hit of meth, your final exit could involve chasing some unwilling and horrified woman from room to room while you proudly display nothing but a semi-erect member and a smile. This would be known as the “Nelson Rockefeller exit” and doesn’t lend itself to a fact-based “cause of death” in the obits.
I also find, especially while watching TV sporting events in the company of curious prepubescent grand kids, that having the TV remote “mute” button handy is a good safety tip for when one of these ED commercial pops up. Explaining “erectile dysfunction” to an eight-year old could possibly get you arrested. If the mute isn’t employed immediately, the conversation can sound thus:
Grand kid: “Grampy, what’s erectile dysfunction?”
You: “Um, it’s a medical condition.”
Grand kid: “What kind of condition, Grampy?”
You: “It’s a dysfunction condition.”
Grand kid: “What’s a dysfunction?”
You: “It means that something doesn’t work.”
Grand kid: “What doesn’t work?”
You: “Part of a man’s body.”
Grand kid: “Which part?”
You: “Well, um, let’s see… the pee-pee part.”
Grand kid (horrified): “You mean they can’t pee-pee!?”
You (relieved): “Yes, that’s exactly right. Oh. look, the game’s back on.”
Before the grand kid discovers that you were blatantly misleading, you could possibly be dead; if you’re lucky. That is unless your demise was caused by an erection lasting longer than four hours, in which case your obit should be really, really interesting…”After a long and courageous battle with erectile function…etc.”
Observoid of the Day: If a four-year old hits a home run that involves an infield dribbler plus four errors, it’s still a home run.