Vintage pharmaceutical ads

NOTE: After composing this post yesterday I discovered Vaughan at Mind Hacks wrote about the very same thing five days before, independently. It's great that Vaughan and I share some interests and an instinct for news; he's an excellent writer and one of my fave bloggers. But – d'oh! I'm just posting this now to offer a few more perspectives. Nice post, Vaughan. :-P

Modern consumer pharmaceutical advertising is a popular and heated subject. Zoloft's blob is a cultural icon and ad parodies represent public reaction to marketing, but also surrounding mental health stigma, medical practice, and conflicting social values.

Vintage drug ads also reveal attitudes, practices and opinions (though I wonder what satirists of the times made of them). One trumpets "Mabel is unstable" and recommends barbiturates for menopause. Imagine the kerfuffle if you placed those in a modern consumer magazine! Advertising has reacted to social change and sometimes, as with the Zoloft ad, has sparked dialogue. What lessons could sociologists and marketers glean from online parodies, far beyond the official campaigns?

The Japanese Gallery of Psychiatric Art hosts print ads targeting Japanese psychiatrists in medical journals, 1956-2003. Gentle and inspiring to peculiar and surreal, my favourite are the series of haloperidol ads. Infamous first generation antipsychotic haloperidol (sold in Japan as Serenace® and Brotpon®, commonly known as Haldol®). Eerie images depict scenes such as a skulking man under a giant hand reaching from the sky to grab him while empty eye masks fly in the air, and other creative paranoia imagery.

Some ads were quite evocative and timeless, such as the diazepam (Cercine®) [Valium®] poster depicting neon numbers glowing in the dark, progressively blurrier. I really wonder about the Electric Hypnotic Machine photo, though.

Vintage Ads: Drugs displays vintage American advertising. Layouts for Thorazine® as "one of the fundamental drugs in medicine" to control the "tyrant in the house", Nembutol® for toddlers, and major tranquilizer Butibarbitol® for "'that time' in her life" seem humorous and sweetly naïve, but maybe not so innocent.

Omni Brain is scouting to form a team of neurobloggers to rule the internets. Be one of us.



Anonymous Reina Sofia said...

I tried xanax and valium and I highly recommend it. You can buy it on WWW.MEDSHEAVEN.COM even without prescription.

14/3/10 17:50  

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