If you were an actor, what would be the job you’d dread most? (Not counting porn. Besides, if you discount all that exploitation stuff, porn looks a laugh a minute.) Now, I’m not an actor myself (shocking, I know), but I reckon that one of the most feared roles has to be “that woman from the laxative advert”.
You know the woman I mean. The one who frowns, rubs her “bloated” tummy a bit, then emerges later all “happy inside”, as the Senokot slogan goes. Can you imagine being the director on that shoot? “Come on, baby – do your I feel great cos I’ve just had a shit look again!” (do you reckon they have sessions on that at RADA?). While you don’t actually see the “having a shit” bit – instead you get some nice senna leaves twiddling about in the breeze – it’s what’s left to the imagination that’s the worst. And what’s particularly painful is the contrast between said woman flicking her hair and trying to be all glamourous (in the most recent ad she’s getting off a plane like some movie starlet) and the knowledge of what she’s just meant to have done (ie had a massive dump in a tiny plane toilet and released it onto the world below).
In addition to not being an actor, I’m not a doctor. Even so, I suspect that young, healthy, apparently affluent women such as the one on the Senokot ad do not form the segment of society most prone to suffer from constipation. I imagine it’s the elderly, those on specific forms of medication, and those who can’t afford a varied diet. Therefore I find it quite odd that Senokot choose someone who you’d assume isn’t their target market to represent their product (I mean, you don’t see 100 metre sprinters advertising Stannah stairlifts.) What do you think the reason for this could be?
It’s not just Senokot who do this. Do you remember Dulcoease with their bizarre Sex and the City-style add for stool softeners? What was THAT about? Four well-dressed women meet up for a bitch about men interspersed with personal confessions regarding bowel movements. We’ve all done that, haven’t we? I mean, WHAT THE FUCK?
Is just me, or does it not feel a tinsy bit like all these ads are aiming, not for the constipated, but for the mildly (or not so mildly) bulimic amongst us? Get rid of all that “bloating”! Stop feeling so “heavy”! Think of all that food inside you – you need to get it out, NOW!
In case you’re still having trouble getting unscientific neuroses into your fat head, think about an advert that was on UK screens a few years ago. A woman was seen pouring piles of stodgy food into her handbag and carrying it around everywhere, indefinitely, because that’s just what your stomach’s like! There’s no such thing as using food for nourishment, ladies! Thankfully by the end of the ad said woman took some laxatives and was “allowed” to empty her heavy load in a nearby bin. Got the metaphor, girls? Was I the only person to be totally freaked out by this?
Perhaps you can also remember the Surefibre ad that included, somewhat bizarrely, the Altered Images track I could be happy. A group of very “happy” women jump around – float in fact – because they’re light, light, light! There’s fuck all in their intestinal tracts! (I’ve a feeling Surefibre itself went down the pan, presumably because it’s just fibre rather than a full-on, gut-wrenching, killer-spasm-inducing laxative. I mean, what’s the point in that? That’s not going to make you “happy!”)
Do you ever wonder what percentage of the profits drug companies make from laxatives comes from laxative abuse? I’d hazard a guess that it’s not insignificant. And while such companies might argue that they’re not responsible for the proliferation of eating disorders, I’d suggest that the marketing strategies they use can indeed tip vulnerable women over the edge (and given the cultural shit that surrounds us, we’re all pretty vulnerable). On top of that, it’s all based on such a lie. Because OVERDOSING ON LAXATIVES WILL NOT MAKE YOU LOSE WEIGHT.
Or rather, it will, in the same way that having a piss, or cutting your hair, or biting your nails will make you “lose weight”. There will be less of you for a bit but you’ll have just as much body fat as before. Then you’ll rehydrate only to become more bloated than you were previously, so you’ll take more laxatives etc. etc., inflating and deflating like a fucking concertina but being essentially the same old you. The same old you, only more at risk of shitting yourself in public. One thing’s for sure, you will not be dancing about like the happy Surefibre women.
But still, I don’t like to offer criticism when it’s not at least constructive. So on behalf of the laxative manufacturers, here are some replacement marketing strategies:
1. The blunt approach:
No shit? You need to take …
Plus the follow-up ad:
You bought a different laxative? Well, that’s just tough shit …
etc. etc. Shit puns are ace, they just run and run.
2. The cosy approach: nice, plush-looking bathroom, with magazine rack next to the loo:
There’s nothing better than taking a good ol’ dump. Trust us to help you get there.
3. The retro-humorous approach: get permission to reuse the “who does number two work for?” scene from Austin Powers 2:
That’s right, buddy. You show that turd who’s boss.
4. The enigmatic approach: just one word in big, bold letters:
Plus your brand name down below, in tiny, just-legible lettering (look, this one might not be very effective. But I reckon it’d be cool nonetheless).
Anyhow, take your pick, pill-pushers. Just no more glamorous I’ve just had a shit women. Our bloated stomachs can’t take it.