The Curious Case of Smiling Bob

Everyone know the old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, chances are, it probably is.” While this proverbial line could be used in a variety of different scenarios, it seems to ring especially true when it comes to pharmaceuticals, especially those that are labelled as “Herbal Supplements”, the type of pseudoscientific “medicine” that makes outrageous claims about health and is only available at GNC for a low low price of  $19.99. As a kid who took the bus to school everyday, I heard the advertisement for what had to be the best “Herbal Supplement” everyday on the bus driver’s AM radio. The ad starred “Smiling Bob” who was smiling because he took a drug called Enzyte which “naturally catalyzed male vitality”. This drug made claims to not only increase blood flow to encourage erectile function, but they claimed that, the one a day pill, would increase the length and girth of a man’s member.

Because the human population would still love to believe that there is a magic pill that would cause growth like a cornstalk in the summertime after being duped for decades, they gobbled this product up. The Cincinnati based Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals made over half of a billion dollars selling a drug that was not FDA approved, had no real peer reviewed scientific tests given to it, and was made up of ingredients that anyone could buy at a vitamin store for a fraction of the price that it was being sold for.

As any man knows, if there actually was a pill that did actually increased length and girth, the founders would win the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately playing with the fireball that is prostate health is a huge gamble, either your customers love you or they get the Federal Trade Commission to investigate your company for false advertising. This killed the Smiling Bob ad campaign and ultimately Enzyte as a product. The owners of the drug were forced to forfeit the money that they made off the drug and many of the collaborators were jailed on a plethora of charges.

While Enzyte as a drug has no real medicinal properties, what the drug has taught us about false advertising in pharmaceuticals might be the only real benefit. It seems as if any product can claim whatever they want to about the effects of their product. Whether it be Cheerio’s claiming that eating cereal can lower cholesterol or any of the products that fill the isles at GNC claiming to encourage muscle growth, better sleep or increased focus. Always be wary about the types of products that you buy and put in to your body. While chances are high that whatever supplement you put in you body will not hurt you, there always is the slim chance that it will. The United States needs big Pharmaceutical companies as well as the FDA to be more strict about what types of products can be put on the shelves of pharmacies, drug stores and vitamin shops.

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2 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Smiling Bob

  1. Please don’t forget about the placebo effect.

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  2. On another note, as discussed in class, the use of sexual based advertisements has run rampant. I remember this commercial so vividly, I didn’t even need to watch the video. I can’t remember how old I was, but it was definitely before I had any parental conversations about sex. It was a clear message, Bob is happy, his wife is happy and the neighborhood wives are quite interested too. Thanks for the good read!

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