Can an annoying commercial win you over?

Hey, Government of Ontario, you are making looking up healthcare options really annoying with this commercial. Seriously, this isn’t quite as bad as the herpes commercial, but the suck factor is strong with this one too.

The Government of Ontario sponsored ad wants us to consider our healthcare options before we head off to the emergency room for all of the scrapes, bumps, and horrible infections. In other words, we’re filling up the hospitals unnecessarily.

And it’s true, according to this study 1 in 5 Canadians who visited an emergency department were discharged the same day with respiratory problems, antibiotic therapies, and sore throats the main reason for the visit.

To put that in terms of numbers in 2013 to 2014 there were:

  • 186,055 visits for acute upper respiratory infection
  • 183,271 visits for medical care for antibiotic therapy
  • 107,198 visits for acute pharyngitis
  • 92,874 visits for bacterial infections in the ear
  • 75,991 visits for dressing and suture removal
  • 45,1118 visits for migraines
  • 41,326 visits for repeat prescriptions
  • 36,641 visits for conjunctivitis
  • 34,197 visits for follow-up examinations
  • 33,105 visits for disease of pulp (centre of tooth) and periapical (apex of root of tooth) tissues

So that’s about 1.4 million unnecessary visits to the emergency department by Canadian patients. Now it’s important to note that these are national figures, so not just in Ontario; however, it shows that there are, indeed, other options patients can look into when suffering from pain, a swollen eyeball, or migraines.

The solution: a free clinic or talk to your family doctor.

The commercial gives us a singsongy song about something or another with sick people looking gross, an unhappy married couple, and a dude suffering from a severe concussion. Unfortunately, the commercial is also starting to win me over as a slightly effective form of raising public awareness about the issue.


Great start.

Great start.

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an infection that causes inflammation in the transparent membrane that covers your eyelid. It can be painful, but it doesn’t affect your vision. Far as I can tell, this red-eyed lady is looking up locations she can go to around Toronto, so she can seek treatment.

According to the numbers, more than 200,000 Canadians will go to a hospital’s emergency department when they’ve got an eye as pink as that. The best idea, go to a walk-in clinic at the first sign of an infection and they will give you a prescription for antibiotic eyedrops (talking from experience here). Also wipe down that damn keyboard, stat!

Mono is usually contracted from other sources than kissing peeps.

Mono is usually contracted from other sources than kissing peeps.

What’s up with the government and non-profit commercials taking jabs at people with herpes? Mono, or infectious mononucleosis, is a condition caused by the Epstein-Barr virus that generally diagnosed by people who want an excuse for their social jet lag. The general symptoms are lethargy, sore muscles, and a sore throat. The important thing to remember is to avoid contact with other people if you suspect you have mono.

While you can get mono from your guy, you should probably be telling him to avoid contact with other people as well, to wash his filthy hands, and to stop taking sips from other peoples’ drinks.

Strep throat more like ... please stop playing this commercial.

Strep throat more like … please stop playing this commercial.

Streptococcus is an extremely contagious bacteria that can be spread from human to human like a rumour about that girl who totally kissed Brad last night… ahem. Anyway, if you’re a doctor and you want to avoid getting strep throat yourself you should probably be wearing a face mask? Right?

I mean, this young lady could cough right into your face at any second, especially considering she’s trying to sing with a tongue depressor in her mouth.

The dad doesn't look to excited with the happy news.

The dad doesn’t look to excited with the happy news.

Guess who’s not excited to be a dad? That guy. Anyway, the dad in this part of the commercial grimaces the entire time making it seem like he’s not all too excited that she’s pregnant. It makes you wonder, hwah? Does it give other dads a chuckle thinking back on their own reaction to when their partner got pregnant? Also effective use of toilet paper rolls to match the pregnancy test. Also man that’s a beige bathroom.

If you've fallen down some stairs and you have a bruised skull, you should call the police, not look online for help.

If you’ve fallen down some stairs and you have a bruised skull, you should call the police, not look online for help.

I know that the whole idea of this commercial is to think about your healthcare options before calling an ambulance, but c’mon. This guy is almost bleeding from the head and most likely has a concussion if he’s singing on the ground. I think in this case, you might be a bit better off heading over to the hospital.

According to an article from the Ottawa Healthcare Research Institute, more than 80,000 people will suffer from a concussion each year in Ontario and 16,000 of those people will have lasting trauma from a fall. The best way to mitigate these effects is to get your ass to a healthcare professional as soon as you can, which means you should go to emergency instead of dicking around on your phone trying to find out if your family doctor is in his or her office.

Yeah... not even the dude at the end of the commercial is convinced. Also clean that keyboard.

Yeah… not even the dude at the end of the commercial is convinced. Also clean that keyboard.

Anyway, I guess I’m just a little butt hurt over the Government of Ontario spending hundreds of thousands of dollars putting out an annoying commercial. The advert has its heart in the right place and people certainly shouldn’t be filling in emergency, but there’s got to be a better way to talk about it. The ad never says directly “Go See A Family Doctor or Go To A Walk In Clinic If You’ve Got Strep Throat”.

Perhaps it has to do with avoiding any blame if one day someone gets into an accident, spends a few hours looking up their healthcare options, and dies by the computer with Ontario Health Ministry’s website still open. Ask The Right Questions is another series of ads created by the Government of Ontario and produced by Cundari, an ad agency based in the city. I think that’s a better example of effective public-awareness raising advertising.

In the commercials, viewers are presented with a situation where they could be at risk as consumers. The little puppet presenter in the commercial then gives you a way to protect yourself with actual phrases that could use. They’re a great series of advertisements because they’re informative, not just sing songy.

Throughout writing this piece, I had to do a little research and go looking for information. Never did I even think about using Ontario’s healthcare option website, so what does that say about the effectiveness of this piece of advertising. I did go to the website and used the tool to find the best place to remove some stitches, but the closest place it could recommend was an urgent care clinic in Richmond Hill, so extremely far away.

Most people’s initial reaction to getting hurt or realizing their terribly sick to go head right for a hospital. It’s a knee jerk reaction, but I understand why people would want to get the best care without having to think where the nearest urgent care clinic is. The best bet if you’re feeling iffy on going to the ED is to call Ontario’s Nurses Hotline at: 1-866-797-0000 or contact your family doctor right away.

6 thoughts on “Can an annoying commercial win you over?

    • Conjunctivitis definitely isn’t something you should leave alone, that said I’m interested in what you mean by your comment! Anything about the article bug you or leave you with any questions about the thoughts behind it?

  1. I cannot believe the government really spent our tax dollars on this piece of junk! Our money would be much better spent in helping the Canadian people that could really use help.

  2. I can’t get this tune out of my head. But in reality, the web site is not very helpful. Neither is Telehealth Ontario.

    I had an abscess on my finger a couple of months ago, and wondered about where I should go. I called Telehealth and was put in contact with a nurse who really couldn’t answer my question without seeing the abscess. I suggested that maybe I should go to a walk in clinic, it being a Sunday, and he said, “Sure”. Not very helpful.

    So I went to a walk in clinic, had it lanced and got a prescription for antibiotics.

    After seeing this commercial again this year, I tried the web-site. Even less helpful, If you don’t know what services you need, it can’t direct you to a facility.

    Wonder where they would send me to remove an ear worm?

  3. Pingback: The Long Mystery of the Ontario.Ca/Healthcareoptions commercial has been solved. |

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