prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Ask your doctor if ______ is right for you…

Posted by prof e on June 3, 2013

Advertising is everywhere. And you can pretty much bet that everything, at some time or another, has been advertised. Of course you won’t see ads for tobacco products on TV, but most everything else is advertised somewhere to someone. Sometimes an entire industry is created, with the help of advertising, when consumers become convinced that they must have a new product or service.

Take the pet food industry for example. Before the turn of the century, pet food as a product was not widely available in stores. Dogs and cats ate table scraps and whatever else they could find to eat. Advertisers discovered an untapped market and by the 1960s TV ads for dog and cat food became commonplace. Jump to the present. Not only do we have a pet food industry, but pet food comes in a wide variety of forms and flavors. To make sure that revenue continues non-stop, consumers are warned that feeding your pet table scraps is bad for their health. Consumers spend approximately $18 billion annually on pet food, and the pet food industry even has its own website.

Advertising products for human use and consumption is also experiencing significant changes. Take medications for example. Companies that develop and market remedies have been around since recorded history. Snake oil salesmen promoted their blends of turpentine and various inert ingredients to gullible customers for decades before the FDA and other agencies stepped in. Now, pharmaceutical companies have to pass stringent tests before bringing their products to market…and then they pass on those R&D costs to you, the consumer. But how do you convince the public that they need your product? Advertising of course.

In 2010 “big pharma” spent $1 million to advertise treatments for low testosterone. By 2012 that amount grew to $100 million. And according to Consumer Reports, the advertisements are creating an impression that many more men suffer from low testosterone than actually do. This may be a case where advertising is being used to create demand for a product that is often unnecessary.

Many countries are concerned about pharmaceutical ads directed at consumers. The concern is that they are, in effect, pushing products about which consumers have little or no expertise. Only New Zealand and the United States allow DTC (Direct To Consumer) advertising for prescription drugs. When you’re told to “ask your doctor…”, the pharmaceutical companies are using you, the patient, to exert pressure on your health care provider. My hunch is that coercion of this sort is unlikely to result in better health care.



6 Responses to “Ask your doctor if ______ is right for you…”

  1. Rosa Ramos said

    Advertisement is everywhere you go, the clothes, food, drinks, electronics, medications, everywhere. It is impossible to avoid and mostly everything that is advertised to one is unnecessary items. “The most common problem, they say, is leading people to purchase things that they don’t really need,” (Turow, p 549). Advertisement can be easy when reaching the certain consumers but when should to the wrong audience the come out may never be as positive or helpful as one thought. Low self-esteem people however, rely on advertisements and other sources to provided them with help and products on finding what makes them better about themselves. Even though people may not necessarily need things they are more prone to purchase items because of the effects that might come with the product.

    The truth is that advertisements do catch ones attention and even though we rely on other sources like peers to give us reviews about them, the people we rely on had once seen an add or something that made them try the product due to positives effects promised with the product.

  2. Andrea Cook said

    People are constantly persuaded to buy, buy, buy. Your life would be so much easier if you’re dog had the best dog food available, or if you took that little blue pill each day. We as consumers want to believe the product is golden, however sometimes it’s not. Consumer agencies are the ones responsible for this need; want for every little thing in life. Consumer agencies “work for advertisers that want to persuade people in their nonwork roles to buy products.” (Turow 536)

  3. Graham McCoy said

    The people of our world are always looking for more, no one is ever content with what they have. We NEED that new car, or that new pair of 120 dollar jeans. We as consumers believe the products are perfect, simply because that is what we are told. The whole purpose of this is profit, making people buy “wants” thinking they are “necesities” (Turow).

  4. Claudia Ricklefs said

    I see direct-to-consumer advertising as a way of producing a more hypochondriatic America. These ads often list symptoms of the problem their medication can cure. You hear the questions like “are you often sad” “do you have a low sex drive” or “do you need to lose weight?” All of these questions can lead you to think you are unhealthy. This is exactly what these ads want. They are targeting audiences through positioning their ads just right (Turow). Everyone needs to make money, but selling medications in this way seems to be doing more harm than good.
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication.4th Ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  5. Matt Marchena said

    The way companies go about advertisements has reached a whole new level. They are willing to do anything these days to sell you there products, which for them is good because that is how they make money. As consumers, we act so fast to buy the product, we don”t even get a chance to look at what the product really is. I’m referring to medications of course because there is the fine print that people forget to look at. A lot of the medicines that are on commercials have so many different sides to them that you honestly don’t even know what you are taking.

    Matt Marchena

  6. Matthew Klamm said

    I used to work at a grocery store called Sprouts. Sprouts has a pretty big vitamin sections, with a wide variety of different medications, supplements, and other health related products to chose from. Although they did not have a pharmacy, the workers saw first hand how this type of advertising works. Instead of “ask your doctor…” it was more of a “available over the counter.” Regularly customers would come in to the store asking for particular products that they had seen on shows such as The Doctors and Dr. Oz. Once when I was asked to find a particular product, I ask the customer what this product did so that I could locate the section it would be in. I was met with a response of “I don’t know, I saw it on T.V.” This customer was willing to put a product in her body just because she had seen it on T.V. I am willing to bet that the program that featured the medication was sponsored to do so.

    I feel that this is leading to a decline in the health of our nation. Putting products into out body’s that we really don’t need cannot be healthy. Turow discusses, in his book Media Today, the advertising industry and the destruction of the global environment but what we are seeing here is a destruction of the human environment (our bodies). I feel that the counters that advertising practitioners offer in defense of the destruction of the environment, which Turow also highlights, would be very similar to those arguments that support the medication frenzy our country is sliding into.

    Turow, Joseph. “Destruction of The Global Environment.” Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th ed. New York [etc.: Routledge, 2011. 550. Print.

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