More Advertising from the Dark Side

Laurie and Debbie say:

Here’s another “dark side” billboard, really quite different from yesterday’s post.

Tylenol ad: serving of berries

Here, we have to believe that the folks at Tylenol and the ad agency know exactly what they are saying: “You can afford to skip a meal, because we have a drug that will make the consequences go away.” And once you’re skipping one meal, why not skip several? Aren’t those berries beautiful? Don’t they make you feel thin and healthy just looking at them? And the more meals you skip, well, the more Tylenol you’ll need. See, everyone benefits!

Oh, heavens, how did I turn into an anorexic? Do I think the advertising culture had anything to do with it? (Of course not; they just made an innocent ad with a gorgeous serving of fresh berries. Who could blame them?)

Thanks to Molly for the pointer (and for taking the picture).

advertising, health, anorexia, Tylenol, Body Impolitic

16 thoughts on “More Advertising from the Dark Side

  1. On the other hand, the first of that set I saw said “Exercise makes you feel better” and then the brand name/logo. It was printed on a staircase. I looked at it, said “You have a point,” and climbed the stairs instead of using the escalator (I’d say I use the escalator 80-90% of the time).

    At that point, it looked like an attempt to associate their product with feeling better, by putting the name and logo on the advice to exercise.

  2. I hate to tell the makers of Tylenol that if I get a headache from not eating, no amount of any kind of pain killer is going to make that headache go away (been there done that too many times). I’ve found that if I get a headache from not eating, it’s because I’ve missed a couple of meals (got busy at work and didn’t have time to eat or forgot to eat), and it’s going to take quite a bit of protein and carbs to get rid of it. But I guess all’s fair if you want to sell more product, whether you tell the truth or not.

  3. I think you are taking it to literally…I don’t think they are suggesting to stop eating and take more Tylenol. Rather, I think they are trying to build their brand to represent health and well being.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the ad.

  4. Yes and taking tylenol on an empty stomach is even healthier don’tcha know… cause those bleeding ulcers are fantastic!!!

  5. teresa, tylenol doesn’t usually cause ulcers, because it’s not very hard on the stomach. ibuprofen, aleve, and aspirin, all nsaids, are very hard on the stomach and *do* cause bleeding ulcers.

    as far as the ad, i read it as “skipping meals is bad, so eat something!” with an example of something you could eat.

  6. I agree with betsyl. There are a number of these in the subway station near where I work; I haven’t seen the one above yet, but the ones I’ve seen feature things like a carton of yogurt with a message about how the bacteria in it is good for your stomach, and a pair of fuzzy slippers with a message to take a day off work if you’re sick. I’m usually pretty paranoid about advertising messages, but based on the others in the series I’m going with overreaction the one above.

  7. Betsyl is def right. It is just a tip to eat something, or for the other ads i have seen: to exercise, eat yogurt, or do things that make you feel better. Tylenol wants you to feel better and they are associating themselves with these things. Not saying dont eat get a headache and then buy our product. Wow that is paranoia on overload.

  8. That’s not what I got from the ad. I got:
    1) if you skip a meal you might get a headache [something I already know, which leads me to “believe” the ad because so far what they say is true to my experience — that’s an important hook]
    2) here’s some good food you could eat instead of skipping that meal,
    3) if you do skip that meal, and you get a headache, take Tylenol.

    If Tylenol is bad for me, it’s my job to figure that out, just as it’s my job to know how much Tylenol I can take safely. (As it so happens, I’m allergic to ibuprofen, aspirin, and naprosyn, so when I get a headache, I do take Tylenol.)

    I don’t find any of this objectionable.

  9. The fact that the berries are in the picture makes me skeptical of the idea that they’re encouraging you not to eat — if they want you not to eat, why include a picture of delicious-looking food?

    I haven’t seen any of the ads, but given what others have said about other ads in this campaign, it seems likely to me that the “skip meals and take Tylenol to cure your headache” message is not what was intended. But the folks who create campaigns like these ought to be aware that the different spots are going to be seen out of context, so they should convey the message clearly as standalone artifacts.

  10. See, that advert says to me: Tylenol! Causes progressive liver damage. Eat these lovely anti-oxidant-rich berries instead. Possibly with whipped cream.

  11. I know this is an old post, so this might never get seen, but I saw this ad yesterday, was shocked, googled it, and this post came up. I guess I can see how a different message might come from seeing all the ads in the series, but how many consumers see them that way? Intentional or not, this is downright irresponsible.

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