Mixing signals to maximize success : blending bardic and priestly voices in prescription drug advertising
Dietz, Cynthia L
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In August 1997, the FDA relaxed regulations which gave prescription drug advertisers increased freedom to advertise directly to the consumer. Since then, the drug industry, specifically the segment concerning prescription drug advertising, has experienced significant changes. In light of their new rhetorical situation, this study analyzes the relationship between prescription drug advertising, specifically for those drugs treating depression, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder, and scientific authority. To achieve rhetorical success advertising directly to consumers, prescription drug advertisers depend on a blend of bardic and priestly voices. Speaking in a bardic voice, advertisers rely on the rhetorical strategy of identification to encourage consumer authority and humanize the science. Speaking in a priestly voice, advertisers employ the rhetorical strategy of persona and rely on the product’s inherent scientific authority to accentuate their own, and scientize the humans. In the end, blending these voices allows prescription drug advertisers to achieve rhetorical success.