The Heart of the Matter: Honest Representation in Advertising

Celebrity endorser advertising is a very effective means of impacting an audience. The liking people have for an entertainer or athlete can influence liking of the brand a celebrity endorses. Likewise, a well known authority or expert can be persuasive by giving his or her support to a brand. At first glance the connection between Dr. Robert Jarvik, who developed the artificial heart some 25 years ago, and Pfizer's Lipitor heart drug seems to be an excellent match for a celebrity endorser campaign. Jarvik is obviously an expert on heart health and speaks passionately about his desire to make a difference in this area.

So, why are there concerns about Jarvik's role as a Lipitor spokesperson? It has been noted that Jarvik does not accurately portray his lifestyle in the current Lipitor commercial. He is seen rowing a one-man shell across a lake... except it is not him, but a stunt double. The image he portrays in the ad does not match his actual pursuits. For all of the expertise Jarvik possesses, why is it necessary to attempt to dupe the audience in this way?
Pharmaceutical marketers have been in the cross-hairs of regulators and advocacy groups, and this tactic does nothing to build trust in direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. It is one thing for an endorser to associate with a beer brand that he does not really drink (although it is bad practice), but it is quite another matter when deception on any level occurs in an ad for a product with major health consequences for its users. If pharma marketers continue to push the envelope on their advertising claims and images, opposition may begin to push back and jeopardize the future of DTC advertising. Link

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