Lipitor Ads Go Under The Microscope

If you’re old enough to remember the early 80’s, then you may recall that Dr. Robert Jarvik’s artificial heart was a really revolutionary invention.
But Jarvik is now under fire for his ads promoting Lipitor. One ad features him rowing. Only it’s not him. It’s a body double.
As The New York Times reports:

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is looking into when and why Dr. Jarvik began taking Lipitor and whether the advertisements give the public a false impression, according to John D. Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who is the committee’s chairman.
“It seems that Pfizer’s No. 1 priority is to sell lots of Lipitor, by whatever means necessary, including misleading the American people,” Mr. Dingell said.
Lipitor, the world’s single best-selling drug, is Pfizer’s biggest product, generating sales of $12.7 billion last year. But as it has come under competition from cheaper generic alternatives, Pfizer has used the Jarvik campaign, introduced in early 2006, to help protect its Lipitor franchise.

To today’s stand-up comedians, drug ads are what airline food was 20 years ago. It’s easy to poke fun at ’em. But this is some serious deception. It makes Dr. Jarvik look bad. It makes advertising look bad. That’s why Congress is poking around in the issue.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.