How Drug Commercials Have Mastered the Art of Distraction

A commercial for a familiar prescription drug came on the TV last night. You know the kind where they spend a third of the commercial detailing all of the horrific things that could happen to your body if you actually take the product as prescribed. I’m not sure why, but I found myself actually paying attention to the action on the screen, despite the fact that I don’t suffer from the condition the drug was designed to treat. 

As the on-screen story unfolded, I came to recognize something that I’ve never fully noticed before. The part of the commercial when the narrator was detailing the most disturbing possible physical side effects of the medication, the corresponding action on the screen was at the same time the most heartwarming. While the voice detailed truly vile potential bodily secretions, the energetic family on the screen playfully made lunch together and wrestled in a crowded kitchen.

Manipulation? Perhaps. I think it’s more of a brilliant exercise of redirection. The pharmaceutical industry has significant restrictions imposed upon them, parameters that all players in their space have to abide by. So, they make the best of it.

How many restrictions do you face in your business every day? Perhaps it’s regulatory requirements, supply chain constraints, or a dearth of qualified candidates to fill positions you are struggling to fill. I guarantee that your competitors are facing the same issues. 

The answer is to not just control what you can, but to maximize it! Acknowledge the constraints forced upon you and then tap your creativity and that of your team. “OK folks, here’s where we are, let’s make some lemonade.” 

And then just hope you don’t experience too many of those unpleasant side effects.

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