We’re all familiar with Rogaine. We know what it does, or at least what it’s supposed to do. Rogaine is the magic cream that turns middle aged balding men into strapping studmuffins with long, luxurious locks that would make even Fabio jealous, if he thought a long haired forty-something man with a beergut would be any competition for him, at least.
Rogaine has been around for nearly 30 years now, and has been available over the counter now for the past decade. But it was still only available via prescription in its early days, and Upjohn, the makers of Rogaine, had to get the story out about this magic hair re-grower so that men everywhere would have practice embarrassing themselves by asking their doctor for a medication that may as well have had “OVER THE HILL” printed on the bottle… a skill they would need when Viagra would first be marketed a few years later.
Here is a classic Rogaine ad from 1991 that gives the details about this amazing new pharmaceutical breakthrough!
If you weren’t around in the early 90’s when ads for prescription drugs like this first began taking over the airwaves, you’re probably wondering what dumbfuck wrote such a stupidass commercial like that. Essentially, here is what the ad is saying…
“Here is our great new product Rogaine…. with Minoxidil! It’s super fantastic and awesome! Yep, it’s the greatest thing since sliced unicorn! Now, for some reasons, you just might have some questions about Rogaine (with Minoxidil, baby!), so pony up a co-pay and go talk to your doctor about it, since they know about all the kickass drugs out there. We’ll even pay you to go see him (or her, we don’t discriminate here at Upjohn!). Here’s a brochure with all kinds of pretty pictures of guys on rafts for you to look at while you’re in the waiting room. Remember, that’s Rogaine! WITH Minoxidil!”
The people Upjohn hired to do these ads weren’t incompetent advertising agents… they were just hamstrung by the fact that ads for specific prescription drugs were not allowed to actually say what they did until regulations were changed in 1997. They could only make claims as to what the drug did if they included a comprehensive list of information about the drug, including that long list of side effects that makes these ads so entertaining in the first place. This is why about 20 pages out of every Readers Digest from the past 30 years were nothing but an endless list of small print that didn’t get any more readable in the large print editions of the magazine…
It’s kind of comical to think of a business having to advertise their product without ever mentioning what the hell it does. It does serve as a nice creative exercise for those in the advertising industry, but no matter the result, it’s still going to sound like a fucked up mess to the general public….
RONALD: Hey Grimace, let’s go to McDonald’s with Special Sauce today!
GRIMACE: McDonald’s What kind of place is that?
RONALD: Not just McDonald’s… McDonald’s with Special Sauce! It’s the most terrific place in the whole wide world
GRIMACE: Well, so is the brothel I spent the night at last weekend. But how is McDonald’s such a terrific place?
RONALD: Like you, Grimace, many people have questions about McDonald’s with Special Sauce. If you call this toll free number, Mayor McCheese will be happy to send you a brochure explaining the many benefits of patronizing McDonald’s with Special Sauce.
GRIMACE: You aren’t being much help, assclown.
RONALD: Perhaps you should talk with your culinary adviser about what McDonald’s with Special Sauce can do for you. To encourage you to talk this over with a highly paid professional, we’ll send you 20 free game pieces from our Monopoly contest!
GRIMACE: You’re making me not want to go to McDonald’s with Stupid Sauce because of all this red tape you’re making me go through!
RONALD: There are tasty children covered in ketchup at McDonald’s with Special Sauce.
GRIMACE: I’m totally there, dude!!! Lead the way.
You’d think this mystery meat approach to advertising would merely be an option for companies whose products were regulated heavily in what they could and couldn’t say about their products. When riverboat gambling came to my state in the early 90’s, they were under similar restrictions that they couldn’t mention that they were a gambling institution or any of the type of gambling action they offered…. but that definitely didn’t keep them from advertising to get their names out there. But those people who are paid the big bucks to devise marketing strategies don’t always come up with the brightest ideas….
While there are no strict regulations about the promotion of automobiles, that didn’t stop Japanese automaker Nissan from employing the same strategy the drug companies were using when it introduced its Infiniti line of cars to the US in 1989. For months, Infiniti aired ad after ad with peaceful nature scenes and a lot of feng shui-like psychobabble that didn’t say anything about or even show off what the new cars looked like. As a result, Infiniti struggled out of the gate as customers were baffled to the point of annoyance over what in the hell Infiniti was trying to sell us. If I could find a YouTube of an old Infiniti launch commercial, I’d be glad to show it to you, but it looks like after Nissan fired the bozos responsible for that ad campaign that they made sure to burn all evidence that those commercials ever existed.
So we here at Evil Squirrel’s Nest with Rainbow Donkey would like to salute the advertisers who went out of their way to ensure you didn’t learn a thing from their commercials. Join us again next Tuesday when Evil Squirrel’s Nest with Rainbow Donkey showcases more complete fantabulousness and utter radness that will require you to talk to your doctor first. If you have any questions about Evil Squirrel’s Nest with Rainbow Donkey, please be sure to call us for your free brochure on the benefits and modern miracles Evil Squirrel’s Nest with Rainbow Donkey can provide for you!