Evolved without resolve
CTALK - Cito Beltran () - November 9, 2009 - 12:00am

Sex they say always sells.

So “Sex” is now the basic formula for anyone in marketing or any company with a product to sell. From deodorants, underwear, tuna etc there is always a graphic attempt to connect some bare-chested man or an almost naked man or woman in an advertisement.

But when you think about it, you really have to wonder, will the hunk and hottie posing for the tuna commercials become over night blimps if they stopped eating canned tuna? Would you even be interested to date a guy or a girl who probably smells like cat food every time they sweat?

I’m sure you’ll lose a lot of weight if all you ever eat is canned tuna, but what would be the scientific effect on the human body? Will you actually have muscles or fish scales? I don’t mean to be irreverent considering I patronize this particular canned tuna, but there is once again the danger of exaggeration that could put the advertising industry under fire just like they did with Milk products.

In the T-shirt and undergarments business one brand stands out not for the uniqueness of their products but their propensity to display almost naked young men. What we thought was a momentary idea has started to become their corporate symbol. “Boy toys” with nothing but undies.

I know that the average Jane and Joe admire a sexy woman. But most average Jane and Joe don’t react too well with “boy toys” in underwear. Call it bias, call it prudish, call it what you want, but there is a serious need to challenge this over emphasis on naked bodies and sex.  

Just this month we noticed billboard ads of a bare-chested man meant to sell some throat medicine. In keeping with the trend, it was no longer sufficient to focus on the sore throat. They had to bare all.

I don’t know if it’s a case of “what goes around comes around”, but from the looks of it, the “sex objects” are now men and “boy toys”. The question is who is masterminding this obsession with male bodies in the advertising industry? Is it simply a trend or an underlying reflection of sexual preference or orientation?

Can we still call it legitimate “advertising” or is now “Commerce with Pornography”?

* * *

The Philippine Food and Drug Administration is either an organization that evolved with a missing link, or a legislative by product lacking in organizational realization.

When Secretary Francisco Duque proudly and prophetically spoke of a stronger Food and Drug Administration, it sounded like a new and improved organization would finally realize its awesome power and great responsibility.

During one of the weekly Health Forums held in Quezon City the head of the PFDA categorically stated that they now have the power and the resolve to enforce the law and to punish lawbreakers in the field of Food and Drugs.

Either it was too good to believe or it will take much longer than we expected.

Yesterday, I received several calls from people who work with different drug companies complaining about advertisements that are not suppose to be allowed by the PFDA. This of course was just the latest addition to the long list of violations made by companies in the food and drugs business. 

If the PFDA were serious about implementing the law and their rules, they have to seriously review what can and cannot be done and by whom and then take more appropriate action than the mere warning letters and admonitions.

In one of my “eureka” moments, it struck me that in reality; PFDA rules fall into a system that reminds me of a triple deck sandwich where only those who obey the rules lose!

In terms of advertising and misrepresentation, the PFDA rules state that unless proven by science, clinical study and with PFDA approval, no nutritional product can be advertised as having therapeutic effects. The rules also state that no company is allowed to advertise any prescription drug.

The truth however is “stranger than fiction”. 

The ethical pharmaceutical companies are bound by law not to advertise or suffer the wrath of the PFDA. As a result of the Maximum Retail Price, The PFDA/DOH allowed drug companies to advertise their “NEW” prices for their products until 15 September 2009.

However, there seems to be a special treatment for Generic products, which are advertised and promoted because they are generic which puts the “branded” manufacturers at a disadvantage.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the pyramid, but raking in all the profits are the nutritional companies who have used creative language and scripts to sell their products without fear of the PFDA. These in turn rob the generics industry of sales that should have gone to them.

Even after the new PFDA came into being, we still keep hearing programs on Diabetes, Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure, Eye Diseases etc, which are always COUPLED with the benefits of one nutritional product or another.

Doctors lend their professional credibility to the gimmick by talking about the diseases and giving cursory confirmation that a certain component of the nutritional product is very effective for healing or prevention of a given disease.

The mere fact that these programs use certain diseases as their springboard already tells us that a connection or a link is being made. That a doctor is giving his professional opinion tells us that it’s about medicine. So when the nutritional product is mentioned, the loop and the hole are completed creating a loophole.

If Spiderman learned that “With great power, comes great responsibility”, the professionals at the PFDA must now show that their rules and our laws are the same for all.

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