by Stacia Friedman
I don’t know about you, but I love drug ads. Couples in separate tubs on the beach at sunset. Faded movie stars sharing their intimate feelings about bone density loss. And my personal favorite, the spunky lady on the double-decker bus handing out relief for constipation and gas.
The best part is always at the end, when the narrator does an information dump, listing the side effects in the rushed voice of a livestock auctioneer. If something is going to cause numbness, weakness, loss of vision, respiratory failure or a stroke, you don’t need a doctor. You need a lawyer.
But the drug ad I’m really waiting for has yet to air. Allow me to describe it. A working mom comes home at the end of a hard day to find that her teenage kids are having a paint ball party in the living room, the dog has eaten the pot roast, the cat has clawed the curtains, and there’s a phone message from her husband: “Hi, Hon. I’m bringing the boss for dinner. Hope you don’t mind.” Close-up on mom’s face, a study in acute misery.
“Having a bad day?” the narrator asks. Mom goes to the bathroom and opens the medicine cabinet.
“Say goodbye to anxiety and stress with Moroccan Gold, medical marijuana that takes you to your special place.”
Mom light up a joint, inhales deeply and smiles. Suddenly, she is no longer in her bathroom. She’s on a tropical island getting a massage from a handsome islander.
It doesn’t end there. Like all drug ads, it concludes with a disclaimer that rattles off all the possible side effects. (Drum roll, please … ) “Using Moroccan Gold may cause fits of giggling, uncontrolled laughter and doing the chicken dance in some individuals. May lead to ordering the entire menu at the Cheesecake Factory, telling jokes to which you cannot remember the punch line and having fabulous sex with the same person to whom you have been married for 37 years. If your desire to eat cold pizza lasts for more than four hours, call your doctor immediately.”
Of course, marijuana can lead to other things. My ad handles that. Zoom back to mom in the kitchen standing in front of an open refrigerator, lustily eyeing a pie. “Remember,” the narrator cautions, “marijuana is a gateway drug. Studies have shown that 90 percent of users have gone on to Oreos, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Bavarian cream donuts. Toke responsibly.”
Should children be seeing this? I don’t know. Should they be seeing commercials for really scary things like adult diapers, vaginal dryness or acid reflux? Personally, I find some drug ads intrusive. Especially, when they tear me away from “Dancing with the Stars.” There I am, all caught up in a sensual tango, and then I’m being instructed to speak to my doctor about a medication for a condition I don’t have that will make me feel much better, if it doesn’t kill me first. It’s bad enough that drug companies bombard busy physicians with sales reps, but what the hell are they doing in my living room? My doctor went to medical school. I didn’t. Why should I be telling him what to prescribe?
Which brings me back to Moroccan Gold. It’s unlikely you’ll be seeing a TV commercial for it anytime soon, other than as a skit on Saturday Night Live. But rest assured, ad agencies across the land are already busy creating story boards and soundtracks for this very high concept.
Mt. Airy resident Stacia Friedman’s writing has previously appeared in the New York Times “Boomer” blog, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Main Line Today, among many other publications.