The FTC soon may have a thing or two to say about celebrity spokespersons, especially those who do not reveal that they are being paid to mention drug names on talk shows (see, for example, "FTC Begins Review of Celebrities in Ads After Stars Take Undisclosed Drug Money"). Yet, the FTC has traditionally ceded oversight of drug ads and promotions to the FDA (see "If FDA were as Powerful as FTC") and that may give the drug industry a free pass.
Web 2.0 (aka, social networking), however, is not as forgiving.
Over at the National Psoriasis forum, for example, I found this:
To Martha Stewart...Sally Field was on her show today and mentioned that she has osteoporosis and wanted to talk about Bone Health. (She's their spokesperson.) Sally mentioned medications, and said she takes the once-a-month Boniva. Martha interrupted her to ask if it's full of vitamins and minerals. Sally said, "No, it's a treatment." Martha said, "Reeeally, no minerals?" WTF? Then Sally finally said she wanted to talk about Bone Health again, and again, Martha cut her off for a commercial break. (I've worked in television, and I know full-well how that works, but there are much smoother ways to silence a guest - saying, "We'll talk about that, and more, when we come back," is one great way.)This is a post made by "Tao" who is 37 years old, is "originally from WA, now lives in CA, and has a fiance and a kitty."
One more segment, Sally has twice said, "I wanna talk about Bone Health," and Martha just went right back to talking about the flowers they were planting and then asked her about The Flying Nun. Now time's up, Martha said, "Good luck with the osteoporosis...thing," and then asked if men can get it. Sally finally got a few seconds to plug the website, and that was it...
I got to give Martha credit for side-stepping Sally's attempts to plug Boniva and "bone health."
But here's what I'd like to know: Are celebrities paid more if they mention the drug name? Are they paid less if they cannot get the whole message on the show?
Sally also appears in Boniva TV ads and there's no doubt she gets paid for that. Yet, the ads are not effective, if Web 2.0 rants are any indication of success. Here's a tidbit I picked up from "Goddess on the Loose" (that's her logo above):
"I love the way Sally Fields pimps Boniva: 'My girl friend told me she has to set aside time once a week to take her osteoporosis pill.' And I'm guessing that 'once a week' time probably lasts for all of two or three SECONDS! Can you IMAGINE the inconvenience?!"I note that Sally was smart enough to attribute the once-a-month benefit to her "girl friend." Obviously, celebrities like Sally are not THAT lazy! Compare this to the real world as laid out in the blog Atmospheric Ruminations:
Well, Sally told her friend that she, Sally, only has to take Boniva once a month. ONCE A MONTH! And her friend said, "Now that's something I can do!" Okay, let's take this apart...with the old medication, Sally's friend takes a pill once a week. HALF A SECOND A WEEK TO TAKE A PILL. Sally takes the new, improved medication. HALF A SECOND A MONTH TO TAKE A PILL.Indeed!
I personally think BOTH of these ladies should take a pill...a SMART pill, if there's such a thing. Does anyone out there actually complain that they have to take ONE PILL, ONCE A WEEK? Hell, I'm not sick, nor seriously infirmed, but EACH NIGHT I take SIX pills! Three of those pills are for my gouty-arthritis, which I have to take THE REST OF MY LIFE. The other three pills are a very mild anti-depressant, which STILL WORKS after taking it DAILY for SIX YEARS!!!
That totals out to 2,190 pills I take in a 365 day year...add 6 pills for a leap year. Sally takes 12 Boniva pills a year. Sally's friend has been taking 52 pills a year, assuming she hasn't switched to Boniva yet. I am poking fun at this commercial, obviously, but I am somewhat alarmed and disgusted that people can be so damn LAZY. And do the people who write commercials think we're MORONS? You know, I am actually a bit STEAMED about this!