Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Man overboard

Remember the whole Lipitor/Dr. Robert Jarvik controversy? Well, the good doctor just got kicked off the rowing team, as Reuters reports:

Pfizer Inc said on Monday it was pulling television advertisements for its Lipitor cholesterol drug featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik, inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart, because they created "misimpressions."

The ads involving Jarvik had come under scrutiny from a U.S. House of Representative committee as part of an investigation into celebrity endorsements of prescription medicines.

Democratic lawmakers had voiced concern that Jarvik's qualifications were misrepresented in widely seen TV commercials touting the blockbuster drug. They said Jarvik seemed to be dispensing medical advice even though he is not a practicing physician.

The commercials, which portray Jarvik in various outdoor activities, also raised eyebrows after news reports that a stunt double was used in a scene with a man rowing across a lake.

Yeah, kind of looks that way.

The lesson in all of this? Testimonials can be a great thing, but since people make mistakes, there's significant risk involved. This is especially true when you're advertising serious stuff like pharmaceuticals, but it applies anytime you put a face on your product. Just keep that in mind when you're considering putting your CEO, a customer, or a celebrity endorser in front of the camera. Make sure you keep it authentic, and by all means choose people with solid ethics. Nobody's perfect, and that's why there's no such thing as a rock solid endorser.

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