The people at Vicks apparently knew that the public wouldn’t draw the distinction from a TV doctor and a real one. It shows too how much confidence our media-in-laws have in our ability to happily wed reality and fantasy. This notion got me into thinking about the same marriage between real gang bangers on the streets and the one’s I see on TV.

I mean, really, it’s sort of the same deal. Ever since 50 Cent survived nine gunshots and lived to rap about it, every A & R exec in the music biz has been “in da clubs” looking for somebody they can first shoot with a pistol and then with a camera. Just go to a music store and visit the rap section. Look at the CD covers. Each one, unimaginative as they may be, has a brooding face meant to motivate guys, stimulate girls and intimidate parents. You can almost see the photographer saying, “OK Fiddy, hold that pose. Flex those muscles a little more. Tilt your face slightly. Look mean for me. Perfect.” Presto. Gangster-ism is born.

After the successful massification of a music form that once struggled to get minimum radio time, it’s hard not to get even just a little nostalgic about the good ol’ days.

Here’s a verse from a rap titled “Basketball” written and performed by Kurtis Blow in 1984:

“Basketball is my favorite sport,
I like the way they dribble up and down the court.”


The second line is my favorite. It sounds like something from show and tell at daycare:

(I like basketball. It’s my favorite sport. I like the orange ball. I like the way they dribble up and down the court). The song is even better when you hear it.

Now compare that to this verse from 50 Cents song “Heat” from the Get Rich or Die Trying Album:

“Keep thinkin I'm candy till ya fuckin skull get popped
And ya brain jump out the top like Jack-in-da-box”


I’m not sure if the two songs act as markers for how rap has evolved or devolved, but it clearly shows that rap eventually figured out what the rest of the entertainment world already knew: it’s all about the image, man. And that’s where people like me come in. Sure I’m the lowly and lowest of the lot since I haven’t yet graduated to Madison Ave., but on a smaller scale I’m the guy you’ll see pulling the strings at the puppet show. You don’t have to be a Doctor, just look like one on TV and you can get a million dollar contract to endorse cough syrup. If you’re young and black just practice that mean grimace in the mirror and then fly to California for a record deal. Politicians have it down to a science! I’m sure by now we’ve all read the article about the email exchange between the former FEMA director and his secretary, Sharon Worthy. If you missed that one, here’s an extract of how his secretary advised him to save his ass:

"Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt, all shirts. Even the President rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this [crisis] and on TV you just need to look more hard-working."

I mean that lady really knows her shit. It ain’t about what’s in the package, it’s about the packaging itself. We call that "branding" in the ad world. We tell models to roll up sleeves just below the elbow during photo-shoots for the same reason she pointed out. It’s one of the reasons I laugh when I look at how well orchestrated and rehearsed the details are when the President addresses the nation. I love how when he visits Iraq he’s often dressed in some kind of military uniform, you know, to communicate the message that “We’re in this together. Even me.” No wonder Reagan and Schwarzenegger jumped from acting to politics. It was the obvious career move. These guys don't win elections, they win "Best Actor" and "Best Supporting Actor." And I'm sure that back at the White House they give out private awards for "Best Writer," "Best Adaptation," "Best Producer," and "Best Director." There has to be some lattitude for an ad guy like me to become a political movie director. So there’s hope for me yet.

Well, now I’m motivated! And I have the right mind to go Vicks and see if they’re not willing to refurbish those Peter Bergman commercials. Only this time, we use somebody else. Somebody with a little more edge. Like Snoop Dogg. And we re-write the headline to say this:

“My nigga Doctor Drizzle ain’t really a doc-sizzle on the tele-vizzle…”

Tagline: Vi-zack is the shi-zack™


Or let’s drop the “I’m not a doctor” line. That’s too soft. How about Vicks goes gangster and uses 50 Cent. So the new headline is:

“I’m not a gangster, officer.”

Tagline: Get Vicks or Die Tryin’©"


Or, we ditch the doctor and the gangster and go back to a regular actor, like Mel Gibson. So now the new headline is:

“I’m not Jesus. But I play one on DVD.”

Tagline: Vicks. It Works Miracles."®


Yeah baby! I’m back. I’d like input on these concepts before I fly to meet with Vicks. I’ll share a fraction of my earnings if I use your idea!Check out my site http://www.thatisodd.com Does anyone remember Peter Bergman from the “Young and the Restless?” I never saw a single episode, since, at that time I was in school wrestling either with my friends or with math. But somehow I remember that guy, and I think it has something to do with those Vicks commercials that he used to do. Remember those? Here’s a hint:

“I’m not a Doctor, but I play one on TV.”

Remember that guy?