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.