Thursday, May 15, 2008

The slogan you deserve

“The Change You Deserve,” the new GOP slogan, was also a slogan for Effexor, an antidepressant drug, though it seems to have been abandoned (the website is inactive, and the FDA sent a warning letter about some of the marketing surrounding the slogan). Here’s the Huffington Post on the slogan:

Its common side effects are very much in keeping with the world the House Republicans have striven to build: nausea, apathy, constipation, fatigue, vertigo, sexual dysfunction, sweating, memory loss, and - and I swear I am not making this up – “electric shock-like sensations also called ‘brain zaps.’”

Its less common side effects are equally awesome in their appropriateness.

And when the Food And Drug Administration reviewed the ad copy that included the tagline, “The change you deserve,” it took issue with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures Effexor, saying that the company made “unsubstantiated superiority claims.” Sounds like the GOP have picked an ironically accurate tagline for their efforts!

Democratic lawmakers were no less gleeful. The Washington Post reports:

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) called reporters into his office. “Democrats, not drugs, is what the American people need,” he said. He flashed the Effexor side effects on a large flat-screen television. “Nausea, up to 58 percent,” Hoyer said. “Actually it’s higher than that for Republicans.”

For House Republicans, the diagnosis is obvious: They are suffering from Election Anxiety Disorder.

…. And Hoyer didn’t even mention the warning label, which states that patients should be watched to see if they are “becoming agitated, irritable, hostile, aggressive, impulsive, or restless.”

This is an example of a second-comer’s use doing harm to the second-comer. Rather than free riding, which doesn’t seem to have been the GOP’s intent at all, the slogan can easily be tarred with inappropriate connotations. Reciprocally, though this use is clearly not actionable dilution, it’s easy to see how it could harm the brand—Effexor’s been dragged into a political battle that really has nothing to do with it, and the side effects that provide political ammunition might not seem so funny (or so bad) if one were actually treating depression.

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