The Sentiment Behind Sentimentality

Checking the comments section of Bob Garfield’s column, it appears he ignited a shitstorm over his review of CVS’s new TV commercial (also available at
Garfield doesn’t mince words:

You see a lot of bad ads if you watch long enough, but, really, how often it is that you see a TV commercial that makes you want to puke?

And the comments run the gamut, like this one:

It’s obvious Bob’s never been in the position of being a primary caregiver. If he had, he’d understand that it’s a lonely place to be and the CVS ad basically says “You’re not alone. We understand you better than the others.” Who knows? Maybe they do. It’s apparent that Bob doesn’t understand caregivers or women. Otherwise he wouldn’t have made such a blanket and ill-informed statement.

Okay. Some men like it, some don’t. Some women like it, some don’t. The issue here appears to be bigger than Bob or CVS. I raise several questions for all of you:
Is it possible to do an ad that’s sentimental yet not sappy? Is it a matter of men not understanding what resonates with women, and vice versa? Can CVS properly claim to be a “caring” company? What does a company have to do or say to show it cares and make it believable?
Tangerine Toad is fond of saying Not Everyone is an Upscale, Urban, 30something White Male Hipster. Is that the case here? Is it good advertising even if you personally don’t warm to it? Do men and women view ads differently, and can we as an industry appreciate such a difference even when awards shows don’t? Have you ever tried to write a sentimental ad only to have it killed by a CD or client who wanted something funny?
Personally, I think the spot’s OK. And I know my 67 year-old mother is very dependent on a smart, caring pharmacist. Me, I just want the CVS dude to hand over my Xanax refill and STFU about it.



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.