A Made-Up Language is Worth a Thousand Words

By Christine Cupaiuolo — May 2, 2007

Viagra’s new ad campaign (only shown in Canada at the moment) is acting as a microcosm of everything wrong with the unfettered marketing of pharmaceuticals.

For the duration of the ad, men and women talk in a made-up language. Among the suggestive winks and nods, only the repeated word “Viagra” is comprehensible. From The New York Times:

“Viagra spanglecheff?” says a man to a friend at a bowling alley.

“Spanglecheff?” his friend asks.

“Minky Viagra noni noni boo-boo plats!” the first man replies, with a grin that suggests he is not talking about the drug’s side effects. The ads end with the slogan, “The International Language of Viagra.”

An executive from the advertising firm that created the ad bluntly admits, “It’s not as though we need to tell people what it does, because they already know. Consumers can fill in the blank for themselves.”

To that sentiment Dr. Sidney World, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, responds, “In an ideal world, companies would have to sell drugs based on accurate and balanced information. That doesn’t seem to work well enough, so instead of that they’re substituting gibberish.”

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