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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

If You’re Reading This, the Words MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU!

These shingles commercials are really getting out of hand.

Don’t get me wrong; shingles is a serious condition. By which I mean painful, and by which I mean I don’t want karma to slap me with a case of it should it seem I’m taking shingles lightly. I’m not. I take it very heavily. Two tons of no fun, that’s how I take my shingles.

But still. These TV ads.

Mostly, they’re fine. They feature people talking about how they got shingles, and how painful shingles are, and how they would totally chop off a finger or rob a bank or poke a loved one with a hot branding iron to not go through that again.

I completely understand that part. I had a paper cut once, so I can totally relate.

But then the voiceover guy comes booming through with their shingle alarm slogan:

If you’ve had chicken pox, then THE SHINGLES VIRUS MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU!!

I get what they’re saying, but jesus — this is a skin condition, not Alien fricking Resurrection.

(Though let’s be fair. They’re equally as painful. Zingo!)

It’s just a little — okay, a lot — more hyperbole than I want in a health care ad. This is an industry that regularly puts smiling people and sweet lilty music in their spots to gloss over side effect warnings for dizziness, fainting, vomiting, thermonuclear diarrhea, erections lasting through the summer and, “in rare cases”, advanced flesh-rotting zombieism. So the scary verbiage seems just a teensy bit overdone here.

“All that Big League Chew you munched down in fourth grade MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU!”

I’m just saying, a phrase like “MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU” should be reserved for imminent emergency situations. “If you teased that snake, the cobra venom MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU“, for instance. Or “Given the unspeakably incorrect way you used that rectal thermometer, molten mercury MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU.”

These are just examples. And not vignettes from one of my typical weekends. No, really.

In any case, it’s not the sort of tactic you use for a thing that may have wormed its way into you twenty or thirty years ago or more. You don’t tell people, “That measles booster shot MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU” or “All that Big League Chew you munched down in fourth grade MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU!“. Because of course it is, Captain Ominous. Settle down, already.

I wouldn’t even mind so much if these doofballs just said: “If you had chicken pox, call us right now before your skin catches fire!” That’s over the top, but at least it’s on point, from what I’m told about the experience. But the current commercial — the “MAY ALREADY BE INSIDE YOU!!” nonsense — doesn’t even make me want to call a doctor or get checked out. Instead, it makes me feel like I’m harboring an E.T. in my chest cavity, or one of those Matrix probe spiders, or a fetus. None of which I want in there, under any circumstances. Even more than the chickenpox virus.

So ease up a little, shingles med marketing weenies. And nobody respond directly to their ads, all right? I do not want to encourage these people into using the same gimmicky crap in other markets. I can only imagine what the commercials would be like for, say, Q-Tips. Or toothbrushes. Or tampons.

Or for that matter, rectal thermometers. Holy yowza. That’s gonna be a problem.

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