Learning and Advertising: Cathy Davidson Assesses Cymbalta

I was poking around Cathy Davidson’s HASTAC blog this afternoon seeking a something pithy, when I stumbled upon her post about the science of attention in Cymbalta’s television advertising. She researched direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads for her book, Now You See It, and now attributes our astronomical anti-depressant use to this phenomenon.

For marketing students, Dr. Davidson’s post is an amazing analysis of the power of advertising to manipulate consumer behavior.

Watch the ad below:

then ask yourself if the visuals overshadow the words, if the emphasis on “hurts” at the end virtually erases the extraordinary number of serious side effects.

The first time it was broadcast, I laughed at the litany of side effects. Who would take this? Who wouldn’t be scared off by a list of side effects that take almost 60 seconds–over 2/3 of the commercial–to read at a normal rate of speech?

But then I work in marketing.

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3 thoughts on “Learning and Advertising: Cathy Davidson Assesses Cymbalta

  1. Maybe it’s because I work in the marcomm world too that I find these ads disturbing. But people hear selectively, and if you repeat your key words enough times and in a way that hits your audience emotionally, they’ll stick and they will forget the rest…

  2. Whatever happened to going to your doctor, telling them your symptoms and letting them diagnose you and prescribe you TREATMENT or medication? These commercials are often selling the public a dianosis before they sell them their drug. Why do doctors go to medical school if all we need them for is their prescription pad and pen?

  3. I don’t think pharmaceutical companies should be able to advertise to consumers directly. This blog and Cathy Davidson’s article are fascinating though, and are a great basis for a conversation about ethics in advertising. 🙂

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