Are you as tired as I am of hearing long lists of drug warnings and precautions during pharmaceutical TV ads?

Do you really want to hear about unexpected weight gain, sudden loss of vision and four-hour erections?

I think it is absurd to require these warnings.


Because the rules that require these warnings in TV ads assume that the ads are what sell the drugs. These warnings are required, the thinking goes, to protect consumers who don’t understand the side-effects of drugs they take.

This highlights one of the greatest misconceptions about advertising: That it works in a vacuum.

Purchase decisions with all products, especially big decisions like medications, are influenced by many factors other than advertising.  Brand Harmony is always at work, as customers’ brand impressions are influenced by the way all interactions with a product or company blend to communicate a story. In the case of a prescription drug, the television ad is a relatively minor player in this blend.

Let the doctor take care of the warnings, so you don’t have to hear about the side-effects of medicines you don’t take.


  • bonnieL
    Oct 27, 2008 - 13:42 pm

    Great post Steve! Agreed. What if those taking the drug actually had to read the warnings themselves – you know – being responsible for one’s own health?


  • Steve Yastrow
    Oct 27, 2008 - 23:28 pm

    Bonnie – Maybe that could be a requirement at Walgreens – you have to read the warnings out loud to the pharmacist before picking up your prescription. Yes, that seems absurd and absolutely crazy, but is it any more absurd and crazy than having 99% of the viewers of a commercial who will never need the medicine listen to the warnings?

    What gets me is the assumption that advertising is thought to be the be-all and end-all paradigm of communication.

Leave A Reply