Gardasil Makes Cancer Prevention Breezy Fun

Here we have a pharmaceutical ad for a drug called Gardasil, a medication that’s supposed to protect women from cervical cancer. Instead of treating cancer as the serious subject that it is, the folks at Merck & Co. have turned it into light, breezy, flowery fun.

The ad also violates two of my rules:

  1. Don’t use illegible handwriting typefaces in your ad.
  2. Don’t use fake testimonials.

Rule number 1 concerns the typeface used in the headline. Rule 2 deals with the content of the headline. The fake testimonial is a lie, because no one ever said the words in the ad. The ad agency pretends there is a real person declaring:

I chose to get vaccinated because my dreams don’t include cervical cancer.

I mean, I’ll do everything I can to help my dreams come true, whatever they might be.

So when my doctor said Gardasil helps protect me from cervical cancer and other HPV diseases, I figured how could I not?

The implication here is that the woman in the ad is a real person who uttered those words, instead of a model who was paid to be in the ad. The model never said any of the things in the ad—those were written by a copywriter.

Pharmaceuticals should not be marketed to consumers. Fake testimonials should be illegal.


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