Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year; New Ridiculous Diabetes Commercial

Matt and I were settled on the futon last night, watching an episode of Top Gear on demand. When the single-commercial breaks cut in, I knew immediately it was blogging go-time.

Impact font on a blue background..."ATTENTION! if you have Diabetes!" Cue the announcer, then actor Alan Thicke appears onscreen. You probably know Alan from his days on the 1980's sitcom Growing Pains. What you may not know is that Mr. Thicke is the parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes. In fact, he apparently has done some good work in the diabetes community. He's got a diabetes research center named after him in his home province of Ontario, Canada!


Oh, COME ON, Alan. Give me a break. I guess CCS Medical thinks you will touch the hearts, minds and wallets of the people who need diabetes supplies. But your credential here is "Famous Television Dad"? I just have to wonder what your kid thinks of this. Maybe he doesn't think anything at all, but please, I should think any self-respecting diabetic would find this commercial appalling on some level.

What can any person with diabetes expect from this company? This commercial not only uses my absolute least favorite tenet of diabetes-supply advertising--"GREAT NEWS! You don't have to prick your fingers anymore! Test on your arm; it's virtually pain-free!"-- which always enrages me because testing on your forearm is still less accurate than finger sticks, regardless of pain level. I'm sure throwing things like this into an ad convinces some people with diabetes that they don't have to poke themselves at all to check their blood sugars. So misleading.

Yet this ad sinks to what sounds to me like a new low. Make sure you watch the video from about the 28-second mark when you'll hear about how the test strips are (and I shit you not, dear readers) made with laser-etched gold, providing the best possible testing surface. I've used a NovaMax before, back when it was still a BD meter, and I don't think the gold in those strips was worth much. Do people pay extra because their test strips are made of gold? Everybody certainly gets charged as if they are. I just pulled apart a used One Touch strip, and there was no gold in it whatsoever. Does anyone actually know if test strips made from gold are better than those made without?

There is a [rather poorly written] article on which states that people might want to try sending their gold test strips to "cash-for-gold" type places. The author goes on to say that if that becomes popular, diabetics might want to watch out for people trying to steal their test strips for the gold.

Misleading, high-fallutin' diabetes advertising frustrates me more than any other kind of poor advertising. I think the other thing that makes me uncomfortable is that someone who clearly does not have diabetes himself is hawking products for people who HAVE diabetes. Were they trying to get his son to do the ad with him and his son backed out? I'd be more comfortable if it were some anonymous actor even pretending to have diabetes.

Is anyone else as bothered as I am when it comes to ads like this?


  1. If it's worth anything, my insurance company uses CCS Medical as their testing supplies provider, so the advertising and Alan Thicke's endorsement is irrelevant. But the Medicare dollars aren't spoken for, which is the reason I think they do such TV advertising.

  2. Scott -- Well, that's good to know at least. :)

    I was just kind of taken aback at the mention of gold as a selling point for test strips!

  3. I agree with all you said in your post and I'll leave it at that :)

  4. I am usually skeptical about companies that HAVE to advertise this way to get the business of patients who already have a diabetes regimen/supplier. If it was a great product, the doctors would be pushing it in the office. I don't even buy gold jewelry at this point because we need the money for daily diabetic supplies, so why would I want to buy gold laced products that claim to be just as good as the ones I already use? No thanks.

  5. labmouse1:04 PM

    The reason gold is used is because it is an excellent conductor.


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