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party poker

I’m not an <x>, but I play one on TV.

[Bayer Aspirin; <x> = “doctor”]

Before doctors started bending over for big pharma en masse on behalf of their befuddled patients (“Here ... try this new boner-makin’ anti-cancer combo thingie and I’ll get a free trip to Cancun”), pill companies used actual doctors to push product on national TV. But then Bayer asked itself – who is more trustworthy than an actual doctor? How about a soap opera doctor! Peter Bergman (who played Dr. Cliff Warner on “All My Children” at the time and now plays Jack Abbott on “Young & Restless”) was paid by Bayer to point to a little box and asked consumers to ingest the contents therein solely on the strength of his warm, pretend medical knowledge. Now we know better; we get our televised pharmaceutical advice from swarthy animated talking bees, matrices of flowers configured to create branded drug logos, and actors who have never played doctors.

The first time I saw this ad, I remember thinking that it was entirely self-referential; that the shillster indicating he “played [a doctor] on TV” was simply doing just that right then. I’m always trying to ferret out the meta-skeevy.

NPR’s Fresh Air (substitute host Dave Davies) September 9th, 2004: “My guest John Stewart isn’t a real news anchor, he just plays one on TV.”

Jeff Stendec (November 5, 1988)

Tags: ad | tv