Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Vincent Van Gogh: Corporate Shill

My wife and I were innocently watching television the other night when we were dumbstruck by a commercial for a new allergy medicine for itchy eyes called Pataday. What caught our attention was the “spokesman”: Vincent Van Gogh!

The commercial begins with a woman in a gallery hanging a still life with flowers next to Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait of 1886 (above). Pollen wafts off of the flowers and irritates poor Vincent’s eyes until, out of nowhere, comes a bottle of Pataday! Vincent tips his head back and squeezes a few drops into his stunning blue eyes. Relief quickly brings a smile to his face. Soon nighttime falls and the background of the Self-Portrait transforms into the background of Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone (below).

You can see the “after” picture of a smiling Van Gogh at the Pataday website, along with the tagline: “Once-a-day relief for itchy eyes. That’s genius.” My memory may be playing tricks with me, but the smiling Vincent on the website is only half as disturbing as the animated smiling Vincent of the commercial, and that’s still pretty disturbing. I’m as big a fan of animated great works of art as anyone (especially on Little Einsteins), but this was just creepy.

Also, is anyone else a little amused/befuddled by the idea of one of the greatest open air painters of all time suffering from allergies? I don’t recall that in any of the letters to Theo:

“Dear Theo,

Tried again today to paint in the wheat fields, but my allergies continue to thwart me. I am considering giving up painting outdoors altogether. I may have to go to Tahiti with Gauguin.



P.S.—Please send money.”


Anonymous said...

I was involved in the creative of that commercial and surely and we never thought of your comments! OOPS!

Bob said...

First of all, congratulations on an eye-catching advertising scheme. (Get it? Eye-catching? Sometimes I kill myself.)

Please excuse my minor cavils as the ravings of someone who looks much too deeply into such things. I'm amazed that you stumbled onto my little corner of the blogosphere, but thanks for stopping by and commenting.

It could have been worse--you could have been selling a hearing aide!


P.S.--Just a thought: Michelangelo reportedly never bathed, so a deodorant commercial sounds right for him. He and the Pope can share a laugh in the scaffolding beneath the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Maybe you can even have them touching fingers...
No need to thank me. Just send a check.