Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bayer Aspirin for a backache? Who knew?

It’s either one of the dumbest ads on TV, or one of the smartest.

But I have to say that the ad in which the guy on the airplane asks the flight attendant  whether she has something he can take for a backache, “like Excedrin”, is as grabbing as any pain reliever ad I’ve seen in a while. Probably since the “Mother, please, I’d rather it do it myself” Anacin ad from, oh, 50 years back.

In the ad that’s caught my eye, the Asian-appearing stew hands the guy a Bayer Aspirin, and he explains in an exaggerated speaking to a foreigner voice, accompanied by pantomime, that he’s not having a heart attack, he has a backache.

It seems that, thanks to the no-fun folks at Bayer, who apparently don’t want bloggers making fun of them, the ad has been copyright-struck from YouTube. I also take it from other commentary around and about that this ad has been running for at least a year now, but I’ve only seen it over the last couple of weeks, so it’s new to me.

To summarize the plot:

A whiney American businessman on a long haul flight buzzes for help. The Asian flight attendant appears and (oddly) addresses the patient  passenger in a language other than English. (The actress is Korean, so let’s say she’s speaking to him in Korean.) He asks for something for a backache, and she hands him Bayer, which freaks him out. After all, he’s got a backache, not heart failure. Switching to perfect, unaccented English, the stew explains that Bayer will do just fine.

First off, to get the commentary on the general-purpose goofiness of the ad out of the way:

Is it at all believable that a flight attendant on an international flight would address an obviously non-Asian passenger in an Asian tongue? 

I will say that, on Lufthansa, I have been addressed in German, but I figure that this is because I look German. (I’ve also been addressed in German in Prague, where I have also been addressed in Czech. No one makes any such assumption about my pretty darned Irish-looking husband. English only, with Jim!)

But, while I haven’t ever flown to Asia, I’m a guessing that on such a flight, the attendants would also speak the language of the originating/destination country. Of course, I may be way wrong here, but, having flown Air France, Lufthansa, KLM, and Alitalia, I do know that the attendants who fly to-from the US do speak English. Don’t know whether folks flying on a US carrier from overseas would be able to make the assumption that an American flight attendant would be bi-lingual.

Of course, the notion that an airline flying to the US would accommodate us ugly, English-only Americans might be a twentieth century assumption. Maybe these days, the Asian airlines want to give us a bit of a dig about the American Century being so yesterday. Or yestercentury.

Given that the stew spoke to him in a “foreign language”, I guess you can’t blame the whiney American that he would launch into his pantomime. Especially given the stress he’s under. After all, he might be dying of a heart attack. No, wait a minute. He’s not having a heart attack. He’s having back pain.

Language difficulties aside, what is most perplexing about this ad is that there’d be someone the age of the whiney American who wouldn’t realize that aspirin is a pain reliever.

Has Excedrin done such a good job convincing us that Excedrin = pain reliever? And/or has Bayer done such a good job in getting everyone over a certain age to take a baby-aspiring equivalent daily to ward off heart problems that they know longer know that Bayer = pain reliever?

I suspect that Bayer did some surveying/focus-grouping and found that a lot of folks didn’t know that aspirin is a general purpose pain reliever. But where did they find the folks to survey/focus group that didn’t know this? Who aren’t aware that aspirin is the Swiss Army Knife of OTC drugs? Even though if you chomp down too many, you may end up with a bleeding stomach.

Apparently, one of the folks who didn’t know about the miracle drug that is aspirin was the whiney American on the Asian-airline flight to wherever.

Anyway, this ad, as ridiculous as it is, is obviously quite effective at reminding people that, when they have a backache – or some other ache and pain that’s not a heart attack – they can take an aspirin. A Bayer aspirin.

I will say I did learn one thing as a result of this ad. I checked out whether you should, in fact, take an aspirin if you were having a heart attack. In fact, you should.

I did not know that.

Now, indirectly thanks to the whiney American and the Asian stewardess, I do.

Consider this a Pink Slip Public Service Announcement.


Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Funny post about a ridiculous-sounding commercial!

Anonymous said...

Wanna know what's really not so funny? A backache actually can be a direct symptom of a heart attack - webmd.com