I wanted to write a post about the number of drug and drug industry-related ads you see on TV, and I do want to talk about direct-to-consumer advertising and what isn’t being done about it.
But then I saw a commercial and I just feel compelled to write about it. It was for Dannon Yogurt’s product “DanActive”. This commercial is hilarious. It starts out with a family sitting around a table and the father is reading the newspaper. He suddenly announces a startling factoid in the newspaper: “It says here that stress….(LONG PAUSE)…can weaken our immune system!” (Cue scary music).
Well, GAWWWWWLLL-LEE! Thanks for telling me Gomer Pyle. I can see being compelled to tell my whole family this incredibly shocking bit of news. I’m sure nobody ever noticed that you tend to get sick when you're under a lot of stress and feeling run down. I’m so riveted at this point, I keep watching with bated breath.
Then their seventeen year old daughter announces knowingly from the refrigerator “Annnnd… about 70% of our our imuuuune (she drags out the word, as if to say ‘Dad, you are such a dummy. Everyone knows this’) system is in our digestive tract.” And just in case you can’t hear her, this sentence is planted along the bottom of the screen. AND just in case you didn’t see THAT, a huge number “70%” graphic appears on the screen along the left. I’m so glad a teenager is up on current medical knowledge. Heck, I didn’t even know that and I’m an internist. She also gives her father a bit of a seductive look. Left me a little disturbed, I have to say.
Then the father helpfully offers this information, glancing back at his newspaper: “Apparently, a culture called L. casei immunitas (rhymes with ‘gravitas’, I guess) can help. It’s clinically proven to help strengthen your body’s defense system.” The paper breaks away to an impressive animated sequence of purple thingies being magnetized or something. I’m not quite sure.
The rest of the commercial is not very interesting, and at the end the graphic reads “DAnActive! Help strengthen your body’s defenses”
Wow! I’m no longer sure if they are trying to sell me food… or medicine! What about their claims? Does DAnActive indeed strengthen your immune system, as the narrator and play actors suggest? Can I get a boost? Can I counteract the stress effect on that 70% of my GI tract?
I visited the website and perused some of their citations and I’m not too impressed. I’ll speak more about it tomorrow, but I wouldn’t start downing a ton of DAnActive at the first sign of a cold.