These new citywide ads for Tylenol, which suggest ways to “Feel Better”–without Tylenol–are, on the surface, helpful hints to avoid the pill-popping lifestyle.
Instead of taking Tylenol, the ads suggest, lift some weights! Take a sick day at work! Lose just one pound–somehow, it will take four pounds of pressure off your knees! One ad, I cannot recall why, suggests sucking on a popsicle.
Whenever I pass by one of these ads, I can’t help but see the subtext suggested by the Feel Better: Tylenol branding in the corner. Go ahead, the ad whispers. Lift some weights. I dare you.
It would appear that these Tylenol ads assume that we lack basic information on how to function as human beings. Really, the ads assume that we do know these things, but that we’re too lazy/weak/stupid/old/shortsighted to follow them. When Tylenol tells us to lose a pound of weight instead of taking Tylenol, what they really mean is, Try to lose a pound. Just one. I. Bet. You. Can’t.
Thankfully, Tylenol’s bright red insignia is there to remind us of the easy way out. Why even try? I feel better already.