Thursday, February 22, 2007

Vytorin Ads Are Getting Old -- and Disturbing!

Back in October, 2006, I praised the Vytorin ads -- you know, the ones that compare family members to food. I said "I really like these ads. The colors are great and a lot of care went in to the design -- even the backgrounds" and "The Vytorin campaign is very creative, although I'd hate to see what dish I look like" (see "Awards: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly").

But now I'm beginning to grow tired of them and recently I saw the following disturbing iteration of the ad in this week's Newsweek magazine:

On the Vytorin Web site there's another version comparing a black woman with a chocolate souffle!

Why are these "disturbing?" They are reminiscent of a much-criticized comment made by New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin, who once said: "It's time for us to rebuild New Orleans — the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans..." At the time, Nagin was running for re-election and the comment brought much criticism. But it didn't prevent him from being re-elected.

I'm trying to decide if these comparisons have a racial undertone or could be viewed as racist.

Here's a test: What would you think of an image that juxtaposed a vanilla milkshake and a lilly-white Caucasian male?

Just a thought.


  1. Anonymous5:43 PM

    I just laughed out loud. Thanks.

    No easy answer to this one; it's definitely dubious, but visual similarity is as it is. Looks like they went out of their way to get a Caucasian guy with a deep tan for that first ad; implies awareness of the issue, at least. And comparing people to food could be much, much worse.

    This may be beside the point, but I suspect the second ad would be less dubious if they'd matched the browns better. (And don't you think the soufflé and the face should switch sides? Maybe she doesn't flop well.)

  2. Anonymous7:20 PM

    Well, they just had some lady compared to a taco... and she appeared to be non-Latina. So what's the big deal?

  3. I like the tension from actually using skin color in a meaty way; I mean I don't think they went too far racially, but there is some energy they tap into with that. I really don't like the color choice for the top ad though: Vytorin's campaign has always inspired and amazed me with their blaring, brassy, full-saturation colors. I like to think they are tastefully reinterpreting 70's disco-ish palettes in a tasteful way. But this pastel blue and pink is too far afield: it is easily muddy and always disharmonious.

  4. John, thanks for the background on Vytorin. Although I didn't use any of it in my post today to, I intend to create a post on the Vytorin campaign soon and hope you'll let me quote you (with appropriate credit). You've given me one more blog to read - just what's needed in to day's busy-busy world. Have a great weekend.

  5. Anonymous6:44 PM

    Well I find the commercials very entertaining and just plain fun. I really enjoy the one with the 3 ice cream cones, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate!.. are they identical triplets?

  6. Anonymous1:55 AM

    harmless ads, and I know that the initial post is meant to be funny (which it is). come on, the people who write these ads are the same who put the black guy in the WaMu commercials.

  7. Anonymous4:10 PM

    what company produces these ads?? is it the same company that produced the notorious eggplant/black woman ads from about 15-20 years ago?? thematically they're very similar. i'm sure there's some italian guy in the company that's still cracking up about getting away with that.

  8. Careful now, "The Italians are not The men That Will be Blamed for nothing."


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