The Haystack and ScriptPhD on Pfizer’s “More Than Medication” adverts

A drug company advertising how life can be improved without drugs? Heresy, I say!

Before she signed off for the weekend, my CENtral Science colleague, Carmen Drahl, pointed me toward a new ad campaign in Canada by the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer.  “More Than Medication” is a nicely designed health and wellness site – interesting to me in that it’s in Canada, but not the US (and therefore offered in French as well).

Perhaps it’s just because when we USians go lumbering into to doc’s office, all 300 lbs of us together with an equal cholesterol level and systolic blood pressure, we just say, “Thanks for the info about exercise and meditation, Doc, but just write me the damn prescription for some pill.”

What caught my eye, and Carmen’s, were the emotionally moving “commercials” for the program – ones that are expertly dissected by Jovana Grbic of ScriptPhD, a UCLA scientist who writes about the intersection of science with the entertainment and advertising industries. I can’t believe I’ve missed Jovana’s blog this long, especially since she was featured here locally in March in a science blogger Q&A written for the Charlotte Observer Science & Technology section by Wild Muse blogger and freelancer, T. DeLene Beeland.

Jovana’s post is a takedown of stupid pharma tricks in direct-to-consumer advertising and the stark contrast of Pfizer’s portrayal of life’s challenges. The post also features an interview with the head of the agency that produces the films.

Here’s one on taking the time to breathe and is linked to this information page on reducing stress.

Of course, these films aren’t meant to sell Pfizer drugs, although they certainly provide positive PR that harkens to a day when drug companies were viewed as “good.” Like ScriptPhD, I find these films fascinating as examples of how health-related issues can be portrayed in a manner that evokes emotions among all, regardless of one’s association with science and medicine.

But here in the US, we’ll still want the damn pill.

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