...don't even ignore 'em.
-- Samuel Goldwyn

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


A dehype reader writes:

I was just discussing what I thought the melody on the Cymbalta ad was with my wife and decide to look it up on the net. I came across your site and would like your opinion. Sounds like portions o"Poor Little Buttercup" from Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore". My wife says it sounds nothing like it, check it out and please give me your opinion. If it is, I would think it could be considered somewhat insensitive.

Al Fien
And I answer:

Golly, Al. I never thought of "Buttercup." You're right, the first six notes are pretty close, if not identical. Could some ad-music guy be playing a little prank on us? Lilly isn't saying. But, knowing how risk-averse advertisers are, and how closely they scrutinize every detail of a commercial or ad for signs of trouble, I think it's likely what they say about the music is true: that it's "original" music written for the commercial. Still, there's nothing new under the sun, and I'm pretty sure the "composer" was looking for familiar, evocative phrases, and his memory supplied this tune, maybe a snippet of Schumann, maybe a taste of Gilbert. In any case, it's a clever job of pushing our emotional buttons, which, when used to sell a drug directly to people with depression, I believe, is the very definition of insensitivity.

Thanks for writing.


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