If The Ad Agencies Ran Science

You can blame this post on two people (OK, and one protozoon):

1. Quilly – who, while looking up bizarre vocabulary for her word games, dredged up this gem: If the bottle says “Vitamin G”, you can bet that the pills it contains are way past their expiration date.

2. The late Paul Harvey, whose unapologetic declaration one Saturday morning, “I am a salesman!”, drove the final spike into the heart of Walter Cronkite‘s ghost, and the “respectable news” for which it was a metaphor. The declaration made it crystal clear to this Amoeba what is considered Important in these Untied States – to Harvey’s cost, for I never listened to his show again.


The scene is an overlarge, opulent office. Behind a walnut desk sits a big, blonde, sunburned man of early middle age, wearing a checkered suit and the fittings for the glowing smile he trots out when he must.

From the office door there is a gentle knock, followed closely by a young, leggy, likewise blonde woman, who could have posed for any of the major girlie magazines and was dressed for the photo shoot.

“Mr. Jack?”

“Yeah, babe?”

“Dr. Casper W. Chinn from Research to see you.”

“Not another hare-brained scheme?”

“He was sent up by Marketing.”

“Oh. Somebody thinks he might actually have something. I guess I’d better have a look. When’s my tee time?”


“Right then, he gets ten minutes. Send him in.”

Casper W. Chinn is short, balding, stooped, and frail-looking. He is in unfamiliar territory and unsure of himself; if he even noticed the receptionist, she made no impact on his mind.

“Sir? I was sent to meet with …”

“John Jack, Product Placement and Promotion. Pleased to meet you, uh, Casper? Call me …”

“Hi, Jack.”

“I can see we’re going to get on splendidly. Unfortunately I only have a minute. Pressing business, you know, I’m sure you’re in the same boat. What do you have for me?”

“Well, it’s a powder …”



“Ugh. I hate yellow. You know that you never buy beer?”

“No, I …”

“You only rent it! The white stuff you guys normally send up, we can color it some way or other, make it interesting. We’ll have to figure out something else for this. What does it do?”

“It’s healthy …”

“Oh for Christ’s sake, Chinn! When people go out to buy stuff, do they buy healthy? No! They buy Big Macs! Is this what you brainiacs call maximizing shareholder values? I don’t!”

“But … but … if you don’t get it, you’ll die!”

“Are you asking us to push narcotics?!

“No, dammit, Jack. This is a chemical that we need, but that our bodies don’t make. It’s found in some foods, but not in those Big Macs you like so much. If you don’t get it, you could die. And you won’t like the dying.”

“Gotta have it, eh? And you could take it in a pill?”


“OK, I’m interested. What do you call it?”

7,8-dimethyl-10-((2R,3R,4S)-2,3,4,5-tetrahydroxypentyl) …”

STOP!! Speak English or shut the hell up.”

“But we have to be precise in our identifications …”

“Tell it to the lawyers. You and they can talk gobbledegook at each other all weekend long. We can’t sell gobbledegook. So what do you call this stuff?!?”

“Well, around the lab we call it a ‘vitamin’ …”

“A vitamin? A vitamin?!? Will you people never learn? You can’t go around calling an essential product a vitamin! VitaMAX! That’s the ticket. Super SciProd® VitaMAX™! Live Forever!

“Um … Jack … the stuff’s good, but you won’t live forever on it …”

“Listen, Casper, I leave you to make the stuff, leave me to sell it. Hard work?”

“Best years of my life in the lab, evenings, weekends …”

“Anybody care?”

“Well, the last two guys who found one of these won a Nobel Prize …”

“The only prizes the shareholders care about are on their stock valuations and dividend checks. Tell you what. This could be big. Because it could be big, I’ll do everything I can to protect you and your lab against the next round of downsizing. But I can’t make promises. You cost as much as any ten Chinamen – and these days, they’re just as good as you. Remember that. Babe? Is it time for that meeting?”

“They’re on the first tee, waiting for you.”

“Ah yes, my teetotalling colleagues. Until your next discovery, Chinn … good day!”

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2009 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. hmmmmm Lies all lies. We get sold a bill of goods over and over again. I think this is what goes on with most new products/services that come out. It’s much more important to go after a hole in one than tell us the truth. Again, we go back to the almighty dollar and how it greases the pockets of the CEO’s, etc.

    Poor Paul Harvey. May he rest in peace with his beloved Angel. Salesman? I think all newscasters are. It’s all about TV ratings isn’t it? Or once again, the almighty dollar.

    Past there expiration date? Who cares it’s labeled a vitamin and vitamins are suppose to be good for you. Keep buying…back to the almighty dollar once again

    Dog Leg Right!!!!!!

  2. Interesting to think about, like Thom says it is the Almighty Dollar that seems to rule the world. What does the Good Book say about “The Love of Money being the Root of all Evil”.

    PS, Isn’t Walter Cronkite still alive, unless your mention of Walter’s ghost is a reflection when he was still a newsman.

  3. It must be a bus driver thing. Concrete thinking. [shakes head]

    The whole point of this post is MONEY. As in, who cares about how healthy you are. If you aren’t wealthy — more to the point, if you can’t make us wealthy — we don’t care anyway.

    And Walter Cronkite disappeared from the news because to him the news was about — surprise — the NEWS. But the news wasn’t making anybody any money. Move over, old man, and let the salesman have your chair. So what if they corrupt the news, it’ll put money in our pockets.

  4. Thom, Bill, Quilly –

    Cronkite is indeed alive, and even does a documentary now and then. And Thom is right, all newscasters are sellers. But newscasters like Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow sold a different kind of product, for which the market disappeared in favor of “National Enquirer news”. And that … wait for it, if you’ve read my stuff for more than five minutes, you know this is coming … points the fickle finger of blame away from them and points it squarely at us.

    It is written, “you can’t serve God and a bank account”. You’re supposed to pick one. But (to some, anyway), “God” is, at best, a metaphor. And, these days, who has a bank account? What was the name of that creek, again?

    The industrialists can’t be blamed for the “vitamin G” thing, Thom. “Vitamin G” was the original name for vitamin B2. It was changed, oh, 50 years ago, long before One-a-day hit the market. The phrase was intended to be witty in its original context. But it got me thinking about the word vitamin

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