New Advertising Trend: Fake "Public Service" Ads

Pfizer has produced a great example of stealth advertising with its commercial promoting a Web site called The ad has the look and feel of a public service announcement, and mentions neither Pfizer, nor the popular smoking cessation drug it promotes -- Chantix (varenicline). The ad represents a growing trend in drug advertising called "help-seeking ads," which don't mention a drug by name, but instead address the condition the drug is meant to treat, and then drive viewers to a toll-free 800 number or a Web site that offers an option to learn more about a prescription drug meant to treat the condition. It is a sneaky, but legal way to advertise drugs that have particularly bad side effects, since avoiding mentioning the drug by name lets the company off the hook for listing its bad side effects in the ad, too, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules. Chantix has some serious side effects, according to an alert the agency issued on Chantix, including "serious neuropsychiatric symptoms," like changes in behavior, depressed mood, suicidal ideation and completed suicide.


Pfizer's Sorbitol, now in the hands of Archer Daniels Midland and Hoffman la Roche, is a synthetic sweetener on the long list of untested, often toxic, additives from which cigarette makers concoct their secret recipes.
Pfizer has never been called to respond to its part in making ordinarily rough tobacco smoke appealing to young people...or to answer the question of how it knew that Sorbitol, when burned, was safe in this use.

Pfizer's smoking cessation drug is a way for the firm to make money again off of Guinea pigged smokers. This might be called "The Zeneca Ploy". Zeneca was a manufacturer of pesticides for use on tobacco...again, without a shred of study of the actual or probable health effects of the residues (alone, or in combo with other toxins and carcinogens) on smokers....and with no listing of the residues on ingredients labels, there being no ingredients labels required by industry-allied law makers. Zeneca, perhaps fearing embarrassing exposures of its role in the hated cigarette cartel, has now gotten out of the "agricultural chemical" business.
Now Zeneca profits with cancer "cure" drugs sold to those who may well be victims of its own tobacco pesticide residues....that is, along with any number of other pesticide residues from among the 450 pesticides that are registered by the U.S. for use on tobacco.
To add injury to injury, Zeneca's Tamaxofen "cancer cure" is itself reported to be a carcinogen.

For-profit health insurers profit by their large holdings in not only cigarette manufacturers but also makers of tobacco pesticides and perhaps most suppliers of of non-tobacco cigarette ingredients. Insurers profit from smokers yet again by charging them more for policies...and by other investments in pharmaceuticals that make "cessation" drugs, patented nicotine-delivery products, or medicines that treat the many illnesses caused by, or exacerbated by, the plethora of non-tobacco cigarette adulterants, most notably, the dioxin-creating chlorine substances (pesticide residues and the chlorine-bleached paper).

It's too bad Pfizer can't come up with a drug to be given to cigarette makers, ingredients' suppliers, and public officials that will lead to Cessation of Adulterating Tobacco and poisoning unwitting smokers with untested and known toxic and cancer-causing substances.

I have no idea why this type of thing goes on in the US, as any kind of medication advertising in the UK and Europe is banned outright apart from the simple things like Paracetmol, Aperin, etc

I visit Nevada often and the way drug companies are allowed to advertise, to me this is just plain stupid as 'customers' should rely on their doctors to inform them of what the best available treatment is.

I was under the impression Obama was going to put a stop to this kind of thing, and backhanders to doctors from pharamceutical companies. I await his move.

With new FTC rules reguarding testimonial style advertising and people posing as actual users of prodcuts. These fake radio advertising and tv advertising campaigns wont last for long. new rules will need to be followed.

As a practicing hypnotherapist, I am admittedly a little biased!

However, when you look at the track record of results by drugs for stopping smoking, it is little better than the results of willpower alone.....

Smokers wishing to quit should see a professionally qualified hypnotherapist, preferrably one who incorporates NLP into their work.

Hope this helps!


A sly little marketing/advertising technique with this. I suppose it inadvertently implores the user to pay attention to the message that is being sent out irrespective that it is only an advertisement for a product or service. At the same time, if its proven to work then it makes completely practical sense to use such a technique.

It the side effects are so severe I think it's just a matter of time until this form of advertising will be regulated by the law. People need to hear the whole truth about the products they consume, they have the right to information, otherwise they will be confused on the buying decision.

This is a good innovation because it would make users avoid it more and prevent them from even thinking about it.

This is way beyond sneaky - The FDA should change their guidelines to deal with these gangsters.

It should reach to the hearts of smokers better with the campaign approach. They don't feel like it is ads, so they are likely to trust and follow the tips. And.. the most important thing is that Pfizer delivers the right and reliable information. The company is also doing the social responsibility this way. Good point!

Very interesting, nice presentation. I've studied Marketing for 5 years, and I must say I found many parts of the business very disgusting and cruel to consumers.