Illustrations interest me, because I enjoy design and I also used to be an editorial cartoonist. So when I saw that the new Abilify commercial (see above) was an animated illustration, my curiosity was piqued, but not just because it involves no real people, but more by the company’s decision to ‘use’ certain ‘people’ in its commercial even though it’s an illustration. After all, as someone involved in studying sociology, I, by nature, start dissecting parts of , well, anything, including this ad.
It seems that the featured character of this advertisement is, as usual, a white female. We later find that she is also married and is a mother. I understand that the company (Bristol Myers-Squibb/Otsuka) would tailor the commercial to their target audience, but why does the main character–and its family (not to mention the doctor), always have to be white? In a way, the company is making an assumption that people who can actually afford this drug tend to be white (and in a ‘stable’ family household), because a 30-day, 10mg supply costs $600 retail. And why does the main character always seem to be a mom? I’m not pointing this stuff out just because I’m not white or a mom; I’m just happening to see a long trend in psychiatric medication ads that have consistently featured a white mother as the one needing these medications. Are moms in need of more psychiatric medication than others?
Another thing I noticed about the commercial was the placement of the “black blob.” Even after she takes Abilify and gets all better, the black blob shrinks but still seem to be hanging around. What does this mean? Does it mean that depression never really goes away, that it will always be hovering around her, just waiting to claim her livelihood again? It’s kind of a depressing thought to realize that once you become depressed, you’re never fully recovered.
I have nothing against Abilify—I take the darn thing. But advertisements for it and other meds intrigue me. At least it’s not that creepy wind-up doll that Lexapro uses on their ads….
Update: Cartoonbrew.com listed the credits to this commercial illustration. Thanks!
Director: Neil Boyle
Animators: Mike Shorten, Geoff McDowall and Sam Taylor.
Assistant animators: Alan Henry, Ange de Silva and Ed Roberts.