While we’re on the subject of television ads I’ve got to pass one along that’s one of the most pernicious I’ve seen in a long time. This one, sent to me by a reader, has to take the cake for being subtle, yet misleading and dangerous.
cnd-photo-harris-metamucil.jpgTelevision and print advertisers have long feed on the desire of young women to be thin, and have probably caused untold numbers to purge their way to anorexia. Now comes Proctor & Gamble encouraging them to purge from the other end.
Their new ad campaign for Metamucil is ostensibly aimed at women who want to lower their cholesterol levels, but I doubt that many women who are the ages of and look like the models in the ads give a flip about their cholesterol levels. I suspect that the brains behind the ads figure that women will buy into the hype to make their insides beautiful (read: empty and thin), which will somehow translate into outer thinness.
What will they think of next to prey on the gullible.


  1. I’ve seen this commercial! It’s one of many that I absolutely hate!
    I think part of the message too is that we just gotta catch this cholesterol thing earlier!! It’s not that lowering cholesterol doesn’t work, it’s that you don’t start controlling it early enough!! After all, we know that elevated cholesterol causes heart disease!!
    Any of the cholesterol, whole grain and diabetes commercials drive me NUTS!! I’m not sure which are the worst….there are SO many contenders! Oh! Have you seen Dr Jarvik’s latest?
    If this continues it’s not a very good outlook for us!! The world population will be (is being) decimated by all these attempts to prevent disease and death!!
    Now…which is sadder….this commercial or the dumb blond that came in 4th?
    It’s a real toss up.

  2. Yeah, the ads are getting crazy. There is an ad for Zetia where the guy says it dropped his cholesterol 30 points or 18%. If you do the math his starting cholesterol was 167 (18% of 167= 30.2) Now it’s 147. The guy says his doctor wanted him to lower his cholesterol. Why if it is already at 167 to start with? Of course this is just an ad so why should the advertisers be concerned with facts.
    Another stupid ad shows a band playing and singing the song Viva Las Vegas but they substitute Viva Viagra in it’s place.
    IMO they should ban all drug ads.
    Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, except that I’m kind of against banning anything. I think we should all just work harder on our critical thinking skills, then these advertisements will simply provide us with a little amusement.

  3. My husband, daughter, son, and I all got treated to that awful commercial for the first time tonight. How utterly repulsive!
    Subtle, misleading, and dangerous it is, but don’t you know we all need that fiber (not)?
    Then again, we’re still being bombarded with Jarvik’s Lipitor ad… when will it ever stop?
    Better to turn the Boob Tube OFF. There’s a reason why they call it that. When it is off, our space is such beautiful silence. I’ve got an axe, and I’m not afraid to use it. 😉

  4. More like: “Tear apart you inside”, “IBS guaranteed”.
    Very clever. I can’t imagine why P&G didn’t use those taglines in their ads.

  5. I don’t know on what kind of shows this ad appeared, but I look at it not so much as an invitation to laxorexia for young women but as another example of the continuing trend of making stuff aimed at “old people” look hip. One only has to witness the excruciating “Viva Viagra!” ad (quite possibly the most jaw-droppingly horrific commercial ever) to see this idea in action. Since the baby boomers are clinging to the last vestiges of their youth with their fingernails dug in, it’s no surprise that something like Metamucil would be tarted up like this. Not that the commercial still isn’t full of crap, so to speak.
    Good point.

  6. It’s time to be about solutions. I’m willing to write off the critical thinking abilities of pretty much everyone born from 1946 to say about 2001. The ones born in the wake of 9/11, they aren’t lost yet and we can still save them. Now, I’m not writing off everyone born from 1946 through 9/10/01, but I think it’s too late for the ones who lack critical thinking to develop it. The machine has crushed them. So, how to build them. A national curriculum that emphasizes critical thought over fact retention. With periodic national tests based around inquiry, logic, and other skills necessary to distinguish the signal from the noise. Since the onset of the information age (I look at the key moment being somewhere during Reagan’s first term, so 1980-84 to present), this has become maybe the single most important skill.
    Course, that’s a big government solution.
    I hope you don’t “write off the critical thinking abilities of pretty much everyone born from 1946 to say about 2001” since that includes yours truly and probably you as well.
    I’m totally on board with you about encouraging “inquiry, logic, and other skills” in the curriculae of all schools, but until we get some critical thinkers in the government, I don’t think a big government solution is going to work.

  7. Haven’t seen this one in Canada yet, but lately I’ve seen several “x-Day Challenge” ads for various fibre-filled products, like cereal. The idea, I imagine, is to make eating ‘Colon Blaster Flakes’ a fun 10-day experiment in gut health – eat a bowl in the morning for 10 days and see how much better you feel.
    Anyway, my guess is if you have to use Metamucil every day, your guts ain’t lookin’ so hot to begin with.
    Probably not. Or you’re simply focused on your defecation rhythm.

  8. Interesting article on how uncontrolled gestational diabetes is associated with obesity in the child later:
    Should pregnant women be on low-carb/no-carb diets?
    Hi John–
    I don’t know if the data is there showing that low-carb/no-carb diets are best for women during pregnancy. My own reading on the subject and my discussions with experts in the field whose opinions I value have convinced me that the two most important things that pregnant women should do are: first, limit the intake of refined carbs during the first trimester, and, second, make sure to consume plenty of protein during the third trimester when the baby is growing fast.
    The first recommendation is because the fetal pancreatic cells are being laid down during the first trimester, and if the mother consumes a lot of refined carbs, her increased blood sugar will affect the way the growing fetus’s beta cells develop, leading to problems down the line. The second recommendation to eat a lot of protein comes from the fact that the rapidly growing fetus needs a lot of protein to grow and it can only come from Mom.

  9. The problem as I see it is that our children aren’t being taught to be critical thinkers. They are being shown (not taught) how to memorize the answers to standard tests and how to follow the crowd instead of thinking for themselves.
    I have a friend who is a college professor. He had a student (a high school graduate) who couldn’t name the months of the year in order and this student was taking an accounting course.
    IMO we’re in big trouble in this country and the government is pushing us over the cliff under the pretense that they are looking out for us. I say BIG BROTHER GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME BE!
    I’ve said BIG BROTHER GO AWAY AND LEAVE ME BE a lot, but, unfortunately, he’s always there peeking over my shoulder.

  10. This add makes me remember Princess Diana and her love of colonic irrigation. I could never understand why ……. so I did some investigation until I read a source saying it kept her abdomen flat for 3-4 days.
    Could a flat look to the abdomen in a tight dress could help increase sales of metamucil to women? I would think so.
    I would think so too. If Princess Di was able to keep her abdomen flat for 3-4 days, she must have been really full of you know what.

  11. I get what you mean I guess, but what’s so dangerous about taking supplemental fiber in the form of psyllum seed husk? I take it every day to supplement my diet.
    Take a look at this post from a while back.

  12. Oh yeah, another thing. The ads in the updated format are frequently kind of amusing, in terms of context. You will rip statins, then have a bunch of canadian statin importers. Rip fiber with ads that sell/promote fiber. And the preponderance of low fat and gimmick diet ads is really weird. I know it’s Google, but I constantly wonder how they charge for ad placements that, in print, would be so terrible that the advertiser would probably pull the account.
    I absolutely love it. I savage statins, and the statin makers pay me for the privilege. If I hate something, I make money bashing it; if I love something I make money advocating it. Is the internet wonderful or what!

  13. I’d be more concerned with this ad trying to appeal to/encourage bulimia nervosa. As I understand it, the ‘binge-and-purge’ behavior isn’t just self-induced vomiting, but can take other forms, too (such as taking laxatives, starvation, excess exercise, etc). I don’t know if fiber supplements have the same effect, of if that even matters, since the concern would be if a bulimic person BELIEVES it does.
    You might score some points by making this case with some of the Anorexia/Bulimia awareness organizations. Just a thought…
    Hi Bob–
    I don’t know if the intention of the ad is to promote bulimia from the other end, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that weren’t the end result (no pun intended).

  14. When I write off the critical thinkers of two entire generations, I’m talking about the median citizen. Present company are obviously excluded as being well above the median civil servant and well above the median politician. The thing is, look at the governments voted for by these folks. I think we could write off nearly everyone of them since your pick of:
    1- FDR
    2- Ike’s Warning about the coming military industrial complex (a republican, no less)
    3- LBJ
    Bad farm bills start under Nixon. Corporations vs. People starts sometimes after Ike. A government about posturing and attempts rather than an effective tool for the people is pretty much everyone since FDR. Some folks would add Ron Reagan as the fourth choice. Since that’s when it really became an all out war of government (as a proxy for capital) against people, I don’t think you can do anything but write that administration off. Trickle down. Funny.
    The killer is, even if people all want free form students with critical minds, creative thoughts, etc, I suspect that most don’t know how to get it and most of your entrenched powers aren’t particularly interested in that. It’s a sad time.
    It is indeed a sad time in terms of educating the masses. It seems that all politicians care about is trying to see who can throw the most money to education without a care about what kind of education that money buys

  15. Th Doctor that gave us the artificial heart, because his father died of a heart attack, is now making millions selling a drug that will prove one day to be a killed one men and women.
    Its a sad day we have come to
    Indeed it is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *