The Women Who Care For Us All Won't Care for CVS's Sappy Spot

By Published on .

You see a lot of bad ads if you watch long enough, but, really, how often it is that you see a TV commercial that makes you want to puke?

Well done, CVS. You aren't satisfied to be growing because of your convenience, variety and price. You want your customers to love you. Alas, flattery will get you nowhere, and sycophancy will make you a laughingstock.

The target of a commercial from Hill Holliday, Boston, is women. The slightly narrower target is family caregivers, women who nurture husband and child. The bull's-eye is women who nurture everyone, including Mom, who is feeble or addled or just plain old. Yes, either by instinct or culture, most of that burden falls on the woman, and God bless her for being there for everybody. Is she generous and unselfish? Yes. Is she underappreciated? Probably. Does this have anything to do with your local purveyor of Rolaids, folding lawn chairs and Inderal?

Uh, no.

But CVS knows that the woman who buys the Band-Aids and amoxicillin, collapsible walkers and Depends is the one who chooses the pharmacy, so why not portray her as a heroine, nay, archetype of nobility? Nay, enchanted spirit of pure virtue? She never screams at the kids. She never harps at her husband. She never resents her disproportionate responsibilities. She never closes her bedroom door and cries.

No, she is beatified by estrogen, a cartoon caricature of sainted womanliness: Snow White and Pocahontas and the Little Mermaid rolled into one.

To watch the commercial is, indeed, to watch a Disney view of the world -- even up to the animated birdies tending to the nest, to the voice of Sarah McLaughlin singing "Ordinary Miracle."

It's not that usual when everything is beautiful
It's just another ordinary miracle today
The sky knows when its time to snow
You don't need to teach a seed to grow
It's just another ordinary miracle today


There are four scenes here, one more saccharine than the last. In the first, SnowPocaAriel removes her hair ribbon and gives it to the aforementioned birds to decorate their nest. Next she passes a melancholy little boy sitting in a fallow meadow. She produces a watering can, and all the vegetation around him springs up -- even an oak tree, providing him with a sturdy limb for his swing. Then (if you have Dramamine handy, this would be a good time to take it) she gathers up the rainbow to cover the shoulders of a chilly old cartoon woman sitting on a lonesome park bench. Now, the voice-over:

"It's in your nature to care for others. To listen, advise, to always be there. Isn't it nice that there's a pharmacy that cares as much as you do? CVS pharmacy. For all the ways you care."

Meantime, as the voice-over lady is stroking you with blandishments and otherwise tossing rose petals in your path, you're treated to the surprise ending about SnowPocaAriel's identity. Sadly, the surprise isn't as good as "The Crying Game." She's not a transvestite. She's a CVS pharmacist! Yes, she' s just like you, stuck being the nursemaid to everyone, including your crybaby husband who gets the sniffles and demands home ICU -- but she's also a CVS employee with more than enough leftover nurture-osity for you.

Uh-huh. Sure she is. Lady, she doesn't even know your name.

Just because the woman of the house is put-upon doesn't mean she's stupid. No need for ass-kissing to win her over. Just make the lines shorter.

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