Jan 21 2008

World’s Most Horrific Piano Chord…

Published by at 4:48 pm under Accidents,Advertising,Health,Technology

I know you’ve heard the commercials — you’re driving along, listening to the radio, and suddenly some guy says in an incredibly matter-of-fact voice “Hello, my name is Stan O’Hanlahan…”.

And then the hushed, minor-key Piano Chord from Hell plays: “*PLING*”

Stan O’Hanlahan then, incredibly matter-of-factly, spends the next thirty seconds describing an escalating odyssey into Disease Hell that begins with him talking about how he was a normal guy, just driving along listening to the radio, and segueing rapidly (but still incredibly matter-of-factly) into a series of health disasters, most always involving some form of cancer, and usually tossing in a tidbit of soul-crushing detail (“and then my eyes exploded” or “I tried to hug my daughter but my arms fell off”) that is clearly designed to freak you out, finally moving on to how the drug company selflessly developed a life-saving cure that brought him back to normal (with a realistic and lawyer-inspired note of caution, like “of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, and I still have no eyes/arms, but…”) while the music changes from the minor key to a major key, the joyous oboe kicks in, and some soothing woman comes on and breathes the drug company’s name gently into your ear a few times.

By the time the ad is done you’re 1) pounding on the radio controls trying to shut it off or change the channel (talk about distracted driving) while a small, terrified part of your mind is 2) trying to figure out how quickly you can get some of this drug company’s product into you, even though you haven’t been diagnosed with the thing it’s supposed to treat, but you never know, just in case….

There is a point where advertising becomes intentional infliction of emotional distress, and these guys have taken a running leap over it. I used to be blissfully unexperienced in the ways of cancer, but enough people I know and love have dealt with it that I feel like the guy in the shallow foxhole hearing the mortar rounds starting to strike around him.

In the meantime, I’d prefer not to experience Pavlovian radio-changing convulsions every time I hear someone say their name, followed by that damned piano chord. If there are enough people like me out there, someone’s eventually going to figure out the tight correlation between these ads’ air times and traffic accidents:

“Looking pretty clear everywhere on the highways today! Stay tuned for detailed traffic after this word from our sponsor.”

“Hello, my name is Alex Lipschitz . . . *PLING* . . . ”

“We’re back! Whoa! All the roads have ground to a halt! Looks like tonight’s commute’s gonna be a long one after all!”

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