An Ad That Makes Doctors' Hearts Skip a Beat

A New Spot for Snack-Chip Twistos Has Miffed Cardiologists

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A snack-chip ad that depicts doctors horsing around with no less serious device than a defibrillator has angered a group of Argentine cardiologists. Their trade has been taken, they say, as a joke, "an entertainment and an indiscriminated object of consumption."

The spot in question is from Twistos, a PepsiCo-owned brand whose latest work depicts a group of doctors using a jolt of electricity to wake up a sleeping colleague.

"Are you crazy?" says the electrically awakened doctor. "They're gonna fire us all."

The tagline goes: "Twistos. The best of your work is when you're not working."

Cardiologists do not see the humor in the spot, which comes from Omnicom Group's BBDO, Argentina. They said in a statement that it causes an "erroneous, contradictory and dangerous effect"; that it "can lead to undesired consequences"; that it constitutes a "fake and imprudent message, which shows this practice as regular among doctors, when in fact it is not"; and that it takes the scientific rigor out of the practice by making its use frivolous.

The spot is not funny, they say, because doctors are trying to implement different programs in order to get the population trained for cardiac emergencies that happen outside hospitals. They also say it makes a joke out of the use of a tool that can be used to save lives, but if used improperly, can be fatal.

Defibrillators, even those designed for regular consumers in Europe and the U.s., are illegal to use by non-medical professionals in Argentina. To assist someone with a cardiac emergency, the only thing a person who is not a doctor can do is call an ambulance, perform manual CPR and hope for the best. AEDs (automated external defibrillators) cannot be used by non-medical staff, are rarely available in public spaces and are not sold to the common person.

The reply from the advertiser was quick: "The goal is to create appealing humor, but not at any time was the piece developed with the intent to be taken by the consumer as exemplary or to be imitated. In fact, the situation is depicted within the boundaries of a hospital and as a joke among staff trained with medical-management skills. We believe that the FAC's [Federación Argetina de Cardiología or Argentine Cardiological Federation] campaign to help reduce mortality from sudden extrahospital cardiac arrest is important, but we want to make clear that in no way our goal was to ridicule doctors or the medical instruments they use, much less to deceive consumers. The objective is simply to be entertaining."

Is the spot truly dangerous? Is the brand reckless? Are doctors overreacting? Or are they rightfully offended? You decide.

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