The ads, intended to be humorous, depict outlandish side-effects resulting from clinical testing. In one commercial, the main character says he doesn’t mind being a “guinea pig” in the lab, but he’s tired of tech companies treating customers like “test monkeys.” The commercial ends with the line “Testing unfinished products on the public? That’s inhumane.”
“It’s dangerous,” John J. Lewis, vice president of public affairs at the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO), told Ragan’s PR Daily. “We don’t need any more reasons to discourage people from research. We need to encourage people and not portray them as some kind of freak.”
Toshiba’s Director of Marketing Communications Tom Hume took a page from Crisis PR 101 when responding to a complaint letter on the matter sent by ACRO. A copy of the following response was obtained PR Daily.
“Thank you so much for raising your concerns over one of Toshiba’s new television commercials showing people in medical testing situations. Our intent was not to minimize the value of clinical research or insult people participating in clinical trials. We will absolutely take your objections into consideration as we develop future advertising.”
The fact that Toshiba occasionally solicits medical testing participants for its diagnostic and medical imaging equipment manufacturing arm adds a measure of irony to the controversy.