March 10, 2004
With all the talk these days in the race about prescription drug ads, I couldn’t help but notice that Detrol, a bladder control drug, is back with a new set of commercials. Last year, one of my favorite ads was by Detrol and I wrote a short letter about it to a friend. Thought I'd share it here:
One of the most bizarre commercials on TV has to be one of Detrol's "Gotta go, gotta go, gotta go right now" spots, specifically the one in which a middle age women is caught with a weak bladder on jury duty. She can't get the bailiffs attention at first so she throws him a note ("Gotta go NOW!") and bolts much to the bewilderment of the bailiff and the judge. What's interesting about this spot isn't so much that it's a catchy overactive bladder commercial with a goofy premise (though I laugh my ass off every time it gets stuck in my head). Rather, what I think is eerie about it is the very end when she is cured of her bladder problem. She's apparently the head juror and is conducting deliberations, when the bailiff comes in to see if anyone needs a bathroom break (I guess they need to ask the bailiff when they are in the jury room as well). Of course she is cured thanks to Detrol so she answers with a giant smile of confidence, “Not me!” The message: Detrol allows you to get through your everyday life (even jury duty) if you have bladder problems. A bit corny but effective enough, right? But if you pay attention to that last scene, particularly to the upper right of the screen at the very end, things get a bit weird. As she is beaming with confidence for being regular again, if you look at the poster-board on her right you see a picture of a sinister, thuggish looking fellow with arrows linked to three innocent-looking women below. A murderer or rapists, maybe? Whatever he is on trial for it doesn’t look like it’s for a traffic violation. Apparently Detrol lets you put away society’s scum as well as carry on with life’s more mundane activities, and with a smile on your face to boot. What I find queer is that the commercial would have stood on its own without the poster, or with one depicting insurance fraud or something less dramatic. Why the scary looking guy? Who made that decision and what are we to conclude from that extra info?
Sorry, I can’t find the clip of the ad online to illustrate the criminal element. Trust me though, it’s there.