“We” Are the World (If We Live on Madison Avenue”

Ad Age, a trade magazine for the advertising industry, picks one firm as its “agency of the year.” In today’s issue, it gave the 2006 award to “The Consumer.” The same “You” who was Time magazine’s person of the year.

So, now we – the little people – are kings of information and advertising, forcing old media and old agencies to cater to our instant and capricious “viral” whims we produce and consume on demand.

Another magazine of somewhat higher standing, Consumer Reports, also talks about “us” in terms of how “we” can take charge of our own health care in an age where we have access to any information we want but have no clue as to what it means.

The magazine surveyed more than 39,000 consumers and 335 doctors. There are some pretty interesting data.

• Doctors got one of the highest ratings of any service the venerable magazine has ever evaluated.

• Patients claimed that one-third of the docs never discussed a prescription’s side effects and two-thirds never discussed the cost of treatments and tests.

• Taking along a friend or relative to a doctor visit measurably improved patient satisfaction.

• Almost unanimously, patients said they followed doctors’ orders, but 59 percent of the doctors said “not so much.”

• A vexing problem for doctors is patients bringing reams of Internet printouts of dubious value with them and/or demanding drugs they have seen advertised on TV.

This certainly validates the Ad Age recognition of “The Consumer” as the best ad agency of all – demanding medication that 67 percent of doctors sometimes provided, even as 40 percent of them said direct-to-consumer advertising is not in the public interest.

This certainly validates the Ad Age recognition of “The Consumer” as the best ad agency of all — noodging 67 percent of doctors to sometimes provide medication, even as 40 percent of physicians believe direct-to-consumer advertising is not in the public interest.

(Consumer Reports is available online only to subscribers, but here is a slightly longer summary than this one.)

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