Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times Wants It Both Ways

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 1:09 am

In a recent column titled Lap-Band maker Allergan wants it both ways, Michael Hiltzik rails against advertising for the Lap Band:

Another concern is the high-powered marketing of Lap-Band surgery virtually as a cosmetic procedure. The best example is the 1-800-GET-THIN freeway billboard campaign here in Southern California, sponsored by a firm that has identified itself as “a marketing company” that “provides marketing for the ‘Lap Band®’ procedure.” (That little symbol signifies that “Lap-Band” is an Allergan trademark.)

The ads have drawn fire from Jonathan Fielding, head of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Last month he asked the FDA to investigate the campaign as potentially a “misleading promotion” of Allergan’s Lap-Band, a device that comes under the FDA’s jurisdiction. Among his complaints was that the billboards overstated the suitability of the surgery and were silent on its risks.

Hiltzik passionately argues that the 1-800-GET-THIN advertising campaign may be dangerous to consumers. But he goes further and accuses Allergan of hypocrisy:

But shouldn’t Allergan be more vigilant about what a “marketing company” like 1-800-GET-THIN says about its product, given the life-threatening potential of the operation? As I’ve reported, two deaths have been linked by local county coroners to Lap-Band procedures at the Beverly Hills clinic connected to the 1-800-GET-THIN campaign.

It’s not as though the GET-THIN billboards are a secret to executives at Allergan’s Irvine headquarters. On major Southern California freeways, those billboards are harder to miss than smog.

Hiltzik drives home the theme: Allergan wants to have it both ways. They want to disclaim any connection to the advertising, but profit from the advertising:

So the company wants to have it both ways. It wants to hawk its product to consumers — “increase public awareness,” as the company describes its marketing goal — and is apparently happy to profit from its own customers’ ad campaigns featuring claims about the product that are devoid of context or qualifications. But when push comes to shove, it also wants to claim the end results are not its responsibility.

Does this sound like ethical corporate behavior?

Thank God the L.A. Times doesn’t engage in such hypocrisy. Rest assured that they would never simultaneously criticize the 1-800-GET-THIN program and similar ad campaigns that publicize the procedure as a cosmetic weight-loss program . . . and attempt to profit from such ad campaigns at the same time.

Would they?

Oh: this seems like a good time to show you the screenshot I took from the bottom of the page of Hiltzik’s column:

Now go back and re-read the quotes I took from Hiltzik’s column — especially the bolded bits. Be sure to chuckle sardonically at the rich, deep irony.

24 Responses to “L.A. Times Wants It Both Ways”

  1. we’re not responsible for the advertising on our pages and there’s no way we could be held responsible for the automagically generated ads there…

    unlike you racist tea bagging scumbags, that is.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. 120,000,000 deaths have been directly attributed to socialism.

    Do you think the FDA would be interested?

    Lazarus Long (c8e7fc)

  3. It is a good thing we don’t have socialism in this country, then.

    a-nobody (00487a)

  4. Good grief, Charlie Brown! it isn’t like it is some product you can run down to the nearest 7-eleven and pick up, take home and use. You still have to go through your doctor and a surgon to install this. They will fill you in as to if it is right for you and what the dangers are. I am glad that a legal product advertising in the free market is the most critical health problem Los Angeles has.

    johnnycab23513 (e15f0f)

  5. For further discussion: how does a “lap band” relate to a “lap dance”?

    Eric Wilner (3936fd)

  6. I can not get through more than the first paragraph of any Hiltzik column. The man is a pompous jerk. Even though I suppose one could search for the irony in it, it’s sort of like digging through a fresh garbage dump for a moldy banana.

    Mike Myers (0e06a9)

  7. Hilzik needs a Lip-Band.

    ropelight (7c54e4)

  8. But that is different. The LA Times needs the money.

    Arizona Bob (e8af2b)

  9. I am a kind and honest and ethical purveyor of truth and a crusader for the people. That you cretins do not understand my brilliance and greatness is of no consequence to me.

    Hitzlik (d4bbf1)

  10. Basically, the editors of the Los Angeles Times are too dumb to know how the advertising on their own website works. They are too dumb to realize that the Google advertising they have installed will pull keywords from the articles and display related ads.


    SPQR (26be8b)

  11. I wonder what Hiltzik thinks Allergan could do to stop the advertising by an unrelated company ? Put up hundreds of billboards saying don’t use their product?


    I do think it is foolish to start advocating the use in people who are not morbidly obese. For one thing, many morbidly obese patients end up merely obese as a result. I could imagine that patients who are less than 100 pounds overweight, would be very unhappy with the results. I wonder if trial lawyers are behind the push to lower the standards.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  12. If “The L.A. Times” was submitted to a major publisher, or to a Hollywood studio, it would be rejected as poor satire, and not worthy of either a “penny novel”, or the basis for a Roger Corman slasher-flick.

    AD-RtR/OS! (a13181)

  13. Comment by Hitzlik — 2/5/2011 @ 8:29 am

    A Day Late, and a Dollar Short!

    AD-RtR/OS! (a13181)

  14. Ok, I loathe the La Times as much as anyone on this blog, but isn’t it a bit over the top to criticize the auto-generated ads by google?

    I mean honestly P, would you expect them to install a special ad filter for this one article?

    This post seem like a reach and dilutes your otherwise GREAT posts holding the Times accountable.

    My two cents.

    oxothnk (2f25a5)

  15. This is a redux of the David Lazurus Goldline/Glenn Beck/Foxnews “exposé” in the LAT this summer. He wrote about this dastardly connection, meanwhile LAT was publishing a FULL-PAGE AD for precious metals, and the website automatically harvested Gold sales ad links.

    So funny how Allergan, and 1-800-GET-THIN not only don’t find the LAT advertising effective, but they advertise on radio, billboards and TV, all competitors of the LAT. Probably a coincidence.

    TimesDisliker (54992d)

  16. oxothnk, you just don’t get it do you?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  17. This blog entry b(r)ought to you by OEDIPUS ANTI-INCEST PRODUCTS and the all-new SELF-CLEANING IRONY METER.

    Mitch (e40959)

  18. ________________________________________

    Michael Hiltzik rails against

    Hiltzik has no credibility, not after the sock-puppet BS he pulled a few years ago—I won’t say anything about his very reliable, sensible “progressive” sentiments and biases. However, even broken clocks tell the correct time twice a day.

    A few of his past columns did illustrate why the clinic in the LA area that has been promoting lap-band surgery — and which has been running the most irritating radio ad and billboard campaign for months — is sleazy and really deserves to go belly up.

    The clinic is owned by at least one person who has had his medical license revoked and is shadowed by patients who’ve been greatly harmed or even died due to the negligence of either the owners’ current or previous clinic. How those shysters have gotten away with such things (including revoked medical licenses, no less!) is puzzling, even more so in this age of ambulance-chasing trial lawyers.

    Mark (3e3a7c)

  19. oxothnk – Thanks for your input Michael.

    daleyrocks (479a30)

  20. Ok, I loathe the La Times as much as anyone on this blog, but isn’t it a bit over the top to criticize the auto-generated ads by google?

    I mean honestly P, would you expect them to install a special ad filter for this one article?

    This post seem like a reach and dilutes your otherwise GREAT posts holding the Times accountable.

    My two cents.

    Of course you’re right.

    I should never criticize them for profiting off the 1-800-GET-THIN ads, next to a column about how a company should not profit off the 1-800-GET-THIN ads.

    As long as they have deniability, they’re all good. I think that was Hiltzik’s point, right?

    Patterico (c218bd)

  21. I’m not going to hold the Google ads against the LAT too hard. It’s very amusing that they are profiting in the way they condemn others profiting, but this is obviously an example of the LAT being stupid rather than dishonest. They do quite a bit of both.

    Worth a chuckle.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  22. but this is obviously an example of the LAT being stupid rather than dishonest.

    Actually, it’s a matter of quality control–not bothering to limit Google advertising in appropriate ways, if it’s feasible.(Not having a blog that uses Google advertising, I have no idea of how much power a blog owner has to limit the ads.) Where that falls on the moral spectrum, I will leave to others to decide.

    But I will say that I’ve seen plenty of similar messes elsewhere–for instance, Obama campaign ads (ads for donations, no less) running atop or next to posts attacking Obama on unquestionably conservative websites during the 2008 campaign

    For further discussion: how does a “lap band” relate to a “lap dance”?

    Presumably, you’ll be better circumstances to perform (if female) or receive (if male) a lap dance after you have had the lap band surgery.

    kishnevi (2d88a8)

  23. Come to think of it, the FAIL here might be on the part of Google, for not refining their advertising scheme so that ads for product X don’t appear on pages which are attacking product X. Presumably people will be more than a little disinclined to buy product X after reading such a post, so it’s a waste of advertising budget. Google might not mind, but I think the advertisers would.

    kishnevi (2d88a8)

  24. It’s all so very Aaron Sorkin. Actually, AD is right. The LAT would make a great story arc. The preaching hypocrisy and cherrypicking is so slanted and so consistent, it would sortof expose the goals theo-Progressivism.

    C0EX!ST – – ! – –

    Kate Middleton (17012e)

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