It pains us to say this but …

3 minute read

… this advertisement for painkillers just does not make any sense.

As a rule, your Back Page scribbler tries to not get upset by advertising for health products.

But rules are made to be broken, right? And this week our usually calm demeanour was well and truly ruffled by a TV promotion for a well-known pain relief product. 

The commercial focuses on women telling stories of how they felt their pain was being dismissed or ignored – presumably by their GPs or other health professionals, although this is never directly mentioned.

The marketing then goes on to suggest the women’s pain was not being taken seriously by their doctors and others because they are female, and introduces the concept of the “gender pain gap”. You can watch the advert here.

Let’s just set aside any discussion of whether doctors really are callously dismissing patients’ complaints of pain because they are women and focus in on the other issue here.

This is an advertisement for an over-the-counter pain relief product. You can buy it at the local supermarket or pharmacy.

Surely, you would think, the womenfolk in the advert might have used this product, or a similar OTC painkiller, BEFORE they went to see their doctor seeking treatment for their pain.

So logic would then suggest said product must have proven to be ineffective, so they then went to the doctor seeking a prescription painkiller which they were subsequently refused. 

Perhaps the cruel and nasty doctor suggested they pop down to the shopping centre and stock up on the OTC pain relief option instead? Who knows.

Maybe your correspondent is a bit slow on the uptake, but the premise of this advertisement just does not make any sense. And it is this bonkers lack of rationality that irks your humble scribe even more than the gender pain gap stuff.

And if anyone would like to take a deep dive into how badly pain relief marketing can go awry, then we heartily recommend watching the brilliant series “Dopesick” on SBS, which lays bare the strategic perfidy of Oxycontin-maker Perdue Pharma and the damaging and deadly consequences that ensued.

Not that we are suggesting in any way that this campaign is comparable to that travesty. It’s not.

But when it comes to spruiking painkillers, surely there’s a better way to hawk your pills and potions than sneakily painting GPs as condescending goons who are happy to see their female patients suffer. 

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