Dombrowski: An Ethical Critique of a Celebrex Ad

The article talks about rhetorical techniques in service of unethical practices towards the viewer. The article was written due to the unethical techniques found in Celebrex advertisement. The author first mention the situation by bringing up the way Celebrex deliver the information. Celebrex provides visual text information in the screen, but those text then soon form a single long line and fits into the graphic of the screen. Dombrowski states that it is impossible for the viewers, especially an elderly viewer to understand this kind of visual effect. Before going into a deeper analysis on this advertisement, Dombrowski first talked about the background of this advertisement. The advertisement is formed because the COX-2 inhibitor approach to pain management has bring people’s attention. And also, Celebrex are well known due to an increase heart attack risk on their product. Bringing those two reasons together, Celebrex tries to find out an appealing way to show the function of their medicine and also give enough information so that the viewers will know the risks associated with using the entire class of medicine. The article then goes into the analysis of the advertisement. The analysis will be focusing on long-standing ethical concerns such as business and communication. Dombrowski first brings up Eric Eisenberg’s “strategic ambiguity” concept. He then mentioned Manning and Amare’s “due diligence”, stating that the communicator should ensure that the viewers fully receive and understand the information. He analysis different points in the advertisement, including background color, the image itself, text and spoken text, stating that those things makes the advertisement unreadable and also brings confuse to the viewer. The overall image of the advertisement is good, but the way it delivers the information makes the advertisement hard to understand.

The link below is the Celebrex video I found in YouTube. The advertisement becomes really hard to understand when it shows the text. The video focuses on a random point on the newspaper and shows the first half of the text on it. The camera then moves to another random position on the newspaper and continues the second half of the text. This confuses the viewer because when the speaker says “If you look closer”, the video then focuses on a random spot that has nothing related to this topic. It looks like the advertisement want to have animation effect that relates to what the speaker is saying, but forgot to actually make the motion effect relate to the topic. The camera moves when the sentence is not yet finished, it makes the viewer hard to find where to focus on. The words on the coffee cup are also distracting, it makes the viewer wants to find out what the word is but the words are just too small for humans to read.

Question: Will this kind of visual effect work on topics other than drug advertisement? Or is it just a bad technique that we should avoid using it?


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