Opinion
8:17 am
Fri April 26, 2013

JMD on the 'Shingles spot'

Perhaps you’ve seen a commercial recently on TV. (Given the highly targeted nature of advertising today, it probably helps if you frequent the news and sports channels viewed by middle-aged men like me.) 

It’s a commercial for … shingles.   Not the kind that come sailing off your roof in a spring windstorm.  The kind that inflict themselves on your skin and, from all accounts, cause a great deal of suffering.  Here it is:



The curious thing about the commercial is that it offers no prevention, really no remedy, although it’s sponsored by a pharmaceutical company.  It simply tells you how terrible the disease of shingles is.  And if you want to learn more about how terrible it is, of course there’s a website to visit.

Now, this I do not need.  I have more than enough anxiety to get me through the day.  The commercial tells us that if you had chicken pox as a child (check), you’re susceptible to shingles.  It doesn’t help that there was one occasion from my childhood when I remember my dad, a strong and stoic man, sick in bed.  He had shingles.

Tell me how to prevent shingles, OK.   Reassure me that there’s a cure, good.  But the advertising strategy of simply raising apprehension over an illness escapes me.   Perhaps “all will be revealed.”  I remember puzzling over the original Vonage commercials (“hoo hoo … hoo, hoo, hoo”) for weeks before it finally became clear that Vonage is an Internet phone service (right?).  My abiding faith in the advertising industry of this great country runs very deep … ahem.  Future topic:  These days, everybody’s a wise guy.