Thursday, April 05, 2007

Web 2.0 Hates Sally

Sally Field is all over the TV these days hawking Boniva. One night she's talking about her own experience with osteoporosis and the next she's talking about "her friend."

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.)

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...
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."

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.

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!


  1. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Hi John. I think this commercial has missed the mark by not telling the viewer why a monthly osteoporosis pill is more convenient then a weekly pill. Of course, ad folks will tell you that anyone viewing a DTC ad who is not part of the audience that ad is aiming at will find it irritating.

    The blatant plugging of Boniva on other shows is a whole other issue. It would be great to see more disclosure, but unless companies are legislatively forced to require this in every celebrity appearance on their behalf, Sally is going to continue to irk the average non-osteoperotic viewer and get cut off by talk-show hostesses.

  2. Perhaps the issue isn't inconvenience but compliance. Perhaps Ms. Fields feels passionate about the subject of osteoporosis. Perhaps Ms. Fields mother was bent over with a dowagers hump and Ms. Fields is so relieved to know that her fate can be different that she has become a tad evangelical about the subject. Lighten one is going to run out and buy Boniva on the street corner. Osteoporosis is a real problem for many women.

  3. Jeez! Imply anything negative about Sally Field and you get mail from all over the world!

    I can see that Sally is an unassailable spokesperson worth her weight in gold.

    But how much gold? And under what terms? That and transparency is the main point of my post, not whether or not Sally has osteoporosis or whether or not it is a real medical condition. I think you are putting words in my mouth.

    So, lighten up already! I love Sally!

  4. Anonymous1:47 PM

    So, lighten up already! I love Sally!

    You like her... you really like her! ;-)

  5. Try getting some facts before you make stupid comments. The mention of time required to be set aside is not a few seconds. The following is the directions for a typical drug that's taken once a week for osteoporosis.

    Don’t lie down, eat, drink, or take other medications for at least 30 minutes. If you want to lie down after 30 minutes, you must eat breakfast first.

    Those that take these medications will tell you that irritation, inflammation, or ulceration of the esophagus is quite common. Older people are often overweight that causes them to be more at risk for GERD and thus they don't need any more problems with their esophagus.

    It's pretty common sense stuff if you can read and want to know facts rather than dribble based on opinions of people with an axe to grind.

  6. Tom, wake up and read the post correctly. The "facts" are from Web 2.0 postings of other people, not from me.

    This is an example of consumer attitudes and knowledge obtained from Web 2.0 sources, which marketers should know about so that they can counteract the exact mis-information that you cite.

  7. Hi...I googled my blog, "atmospheric ruminations" and found that a portion of one of my posts was used on your marketing blog here! Cool!

  8. Glad to see some discussion & critique of this whole area of celebrity endorsements & celebrity spokespersons. It's gotten to be too big a thing to go unexamined.

  9. Anonymous9:35 AM

    John Mack...Why do you comment on things that you obviously know nothing about? Read the post from "tom" above about the time required each week for fasting AFTER taking the medications, and also consider that patients have to fast the night BEFORE taking the weekly medications. Then get out you calculator and give us the real time savings for patients who take the monthly treatment. Once you've done that we we all look forward to your apology.

  10. Why don't you read my response to Tom?

    It's obvious that the patient I quoted did not understand the DTC ad and know about the fasting and standing bit.

    This is a failure of DTC, not my understanding of the "facts" that DTC does not reveal -- perhaps because it's an "inconvenient truth"?


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