Monday, February 10, 2014

Old (folks) news

Who needs statistics about the graying demographics of TV news watchers. The commercials tell the whole tale.

There are whole blocks of medical ads. From knee replacements to CyberKnife surgery to HurryCanes to any number of new pharmaceutical pills, creams, and injections.

The ads for prescription medications close with a long list of side effects that sound worse than the initial problem, ending in “Ask your doctor.” If I asked my doctor about everything I saw on TV, she would stop taking my calls.

The ads are so pervasive during network news programs, I keep the remote handy. At first sight of dry mouth guy, I hit mute before he opens his own dry mouth to ask, "Do you have dry maothhhh?”

Forget the erectile dysfunction ads. Couples in matching bath tubs. Couples snuggling on the front porch. Couples camping on the beach or playing around in the kitchen. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was fun to have erectile dysfunction…at least until the announcer rattles off all the possible side effects.

Forget research showing potentially misleading claims are “prevalent throughout consumer-targeted prescription and nonprescription drug advertising on television.”

Forget that, according to Popular Science, the 6:30 news slot is “a prime time frame to run drug ads—that's when old people are watching, and old people love their drugs.”

At the very least, why can’t health care companies make ads people don’t mind watching. It's not impossible. Think Super Bowl ads. Think viral video ads. Think anything but what is already being aired, because I’m blocking these ads as fast as they flicker on screen.

Rx ads almost make me nostalgic for other scream-worthy commercial categories -- like political candidates or Christmas holiday shopping.

At least the remote is my friend. Right near the oft-used mute function is the red power button. It gives such a satisfying click when it turns the TV off.

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