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Prudence L Gourguechon M.D.

What's with the infinitely irritating Cialis bathtubs?

Humans don't like meaninglessness

Posted Jun 20, 2011

I apologize in advance. But I can’t take it anymore. I freely admit this is not at all a timely posting. I’m just hoping to get my intense aggravation with the Cialis bathtubs finally out of my system. I hoped it would go away. But it hasn’t, and now I hope this post will do the trick.

So here goes (better late than never): What’s with the bathtubs?

As a physician, I think Cialis, produced by Eli Lilly, is a perfectly fine drug for erectile dysfunction (at least to my knowledge) and serves a very useful purpose. I just hate the ads, which seem to be stunningly pervasive. Tonight I watched the news for two hours and the bathubs ads were on at least twice.

A quick search on the Internet yields an inordinate number of blog postings expressing the same intense frustration with the bathtubs that appear relentlessly in the Cialis commercials. For some interesting discussion, try this blog

I’m sure Eli Lilly makes a good profit on the sales of Cialis. Maybe the company thinks that the bathtub ads are selling the drug. I think they are extraordinarily mistaken. The drug sells itself in spite of the ads. They (Lilly and its ad company) could argue, “hey you know the name, don’t you? You remember our ads, don’t you? What more could we want?” Well, how about not provoking your market into near insanity.

So what’s wrong with the ad from a psychoanalyst’s point of view? I’ll start with some side issues and work up to the dreaded bathtubs.

First (and I hate to have to say it) but the vast majority of people do not like to see old people becoming sexually aroused. Even old people don’t much like to see it! It’s not that we don’t think older people should have sex. Sure they should. We’d just rather not look at it or think about it.

This aversion is not because of some ageist prejudice-the reason is more interesting and more complex. The cause has to do with something from our ancient pasts-we don’t like to think of our parents having sex. So in our unconscious minds, the couple in the ads are roughly equivalent to our parents–no matter how old we are. In our inner minds, none of us really thinks of ourselves as 60 or 70 even if we are. It’s a paradox-the ever-lasting child in us hates seeing our parents be sexy.

Second. All that nutty photomontage of dissolving walls and rising gardens and erupting bridges and emerging oceans is Incredibly annoying. Because it doesn’t make any sense. It is stupid and meaningless, and human beings do not like stupid and meaningless unless it is clearly defined as comedy. Which it isn’t in the Cialis ads.

Now we come to the “two bathtubs” shot, always taken from behind. The couple appears to be naked, each in one bathtub. The tubs are separated– the couple is holding hands. I guess the implication is that these attractive older folks have successfully done the deed and now they’re in a relaxed post-coital state. The bathtubs are not in a bathroom, or even a spa. They have no plumbing. They are in the middle of nowhere logical. The viewer isn’t sharing the couple’s satisfaction, s/he is thinking BUT WHAT DO THE BATHTUBS MEAN? WHAT DO THEY SIGNIFY? NOTHING.

Why is this so aggravating? Human beings, as stupid as we can be sometimes, are dedicated meaning- seekers. We don’t like meaninglessness. It makes us uneasy, rubs us the wrong way. The Cialis bathtubs defy millennium of linguistic meaning-seeking. People have worked incredibly hard over the millenia to accomplish the amazing linguistic accomplishment of giving words meaning-“chair” is inextricably linked to the actual object, the thing you sit on, and to the function of sitting. This is satisfying and calming. A “bathtub” is linked to the object that holds a lot of water for bathing, and the function of taking a bath. This is called, in linguistics, the signified and the signifier (the word “chair” is the word,

In one misguided pseudo creative stroke, the makers of Cialis and their advertising agency ignore this basic human principle-that words should mean something,. Objects should have a meaningful purpose. As humans, we count on meaning to keep ourselves organized.

The key thing here is the distinctions between absurdity, fancy and meaninglessness. Absurdity can be comic, and provide relief from the everyday rigors of reality as well as a sometimes complex commentary on the vagaries of living. Flights of fantasy can be diverting. But pure meaninglessness is disruptive and disorganizing for the human psyche. And, I would argue, meaninglessness is not a good way to sell a product.

Eli Lilly has not helped itself by creating a monument to meaninglessness. The fact that the ads have etched a permanent association in peoples minds between Cialis and older people having sex in a bathtub in the middle of nowhere is not good for Lilly or for us. How about this: How about an ad with some striking image (that is not nonsensical) and an announcer saying something like “Cialis is a great drug for erectile dysfunction and you don’t have to take it right before sex which is really convenient?” The market would rejoice.

I find that television advertisements for pharmaceuticals are often the most annoying ads on TV. The ads for ED drugs sre the most annoying of the pharmaceutical ads, and those damn bathtubs are the most ridiculous feature of any ad for an ED drug.

thanks Hank

It’s of some comfort to be in agreement. You’re right to point out that all the pharmaceutical ads on TV are annoying (Lipitor comes to mind), and the ED ones the most annoying of the annoying. I would like to figure out a way to prove to the pharmaceutical companies that they don’t benefit from annoying their targeted market.

Wow Hank! In 10 short minutes we have discovered you are neurotic, obsessive, narcissistic, whiny, misogynistic, ageist and narrow minded. I, for one, don’t have any problem with people older than myself having sex. In fact, I find it comforting to know my future may not be as sex free as yours. I did not see the significance of the bath tubs with out asking. Now that I know there is one more mystery solved. I also don’t have a problem with advertising marking the importance of the female perspective. If we are very very lucky we (women) will travel through the remainder of our lives without ever coming into contact with you Hank! One can only hope!

I’m in between the age of extramarital performance and needing enhancement drugs and have a thought based on developing experience. The duration of the deed becomes extended beyond a reasonable disorder znd during this extended period of intmancy friction occurs. With out an emense amount of additional lubricant, intense friction occurs. Clearly, due to a lack of hot water plumbing, the cooler water in the tub is to provide relief to the genitalia of the geriatric fornicators. Some day the tub will be your friend, if your lucky.

While we're on the subject of

While we’re on the subject of pharmaceutical ads, let me interject that I find it greatly disturbing that the pharmaceutical companies dominate the advertising segments on the national nightly news programs. They are major sponsors. And I am concerned what type of favor is attached to their level of sponsorship. If the drug companies engage in deceptive advertising, if they produce ineffective or dangerous drugs, if they overcharge for their product, who will sound the alarm? Are the news networks going to aggressively investigate the source of their bread and butter?

And so, the pharmaceutical companies continue to charge alot, and the health insurance companies get to raise premiums, and the government picks up the tab for medicare and medicaid prescriptions, and the pharmaceutical companies hire lobbyists to persuade congress to make laws and policies that benefit them, and no one will investigate all of the conflicts of interest; few will suggest the efficacy of alternative treatments, and the cycle goes on and on.

excellent points

I agree completely. Blatant conflicts of interest that can impact everyone.

And I also wish the drug ads would be regulated off off the airwaves altogether. They have no business there. Drug decisions belong in a doctor’s office, period. One should never be going to their doctor and requesting such-and-such a drug.

I’m all for patient education, but not from advertising.

And the antidepressant commercials are the worst. If you don’t feel bad at the beginning of the commercial, you’ll want to crawl in bed by the end of it. I think there’s a lot of unhealthy anchoring happening. If you want to anchor me five times a night to eat at your restaurant, fine. but doing that with pharmaceuticals should be restricted on the airwaves. If you want to educate the public about depression, for instance, do it from a neutral source that is not advertising and is not backed by the drug industry.

And as for the original subject of the article, thanks for voicing my endless irritation with those stupid Cialis bathtubs. Hate, hate, hate those stupid bathtubs.

And the old-people-having-sex observation is right on – most people see themselves as much younger and the parent association makes sense. I personally am quite certain I was simply left on the doorstep and that nothing unpleasant to think about happened between my parents. =)

Cialis bathtub ads

Excellent answer. Thanks.

I never wonder what the bathtubs mean, I wonder why there are two separate ones. If you want to show two people happy that they can get more enjoyment out of sex, wouldn’t you want to show them cuddling together?? That contradiction is, to me, what makes the ads so annoying. The tubs do seem to convey a meaning (physical separation) but it conflicts with the ad’s message. A single hot tub on the beach would be just as out of place, but at least would make sense.

They put those bathtubs in

They put those bathtubs in there for one reason, and one reason alone: brand recognition. As soon as you see them, you know what product, and which specific brand of that product, is being sold. In terms of marketing, it’s a work of absolute genius.

Thanks for your comment

Thanks for your comment Alice. I agree with your assessment that brand recognition is the motivation behind the advertising strategy. And you could say Cialis has succeeded, since most of us have that image of the bathtubs in mind when we think of that particular drug. However, I still feel that a negative associational link does not in the end do a product much good. People are naturally in search of meaningful messages and connections, and it’s my opinion that marketers ought to keep that in mind and take advantage of it when crafting messages or brand symbols.

Who wants to have sex with a

Who wants to have sex with a dirty person bathe first.The gerneration that produced thr baby boom didnt neef drugs to do so.

Who wants to have sex with a

Who wants to have sex with a dirty person bathe first.The gerneration that produced thr baby boom didnt neef drugs to do so.

I'm just as annoyed, but I do think I understand their intention

I find that scene just as annoying and irrelevant as you do, and I loved the article. However, I do think I understand what they’re going for with that image. I think they brainstormed to come up with every visual cliché for “romance” that they could think of. and then threw them all into one ad without regard for logic or subtlety. On the list were:

Walks on the beach

The ocean lapping at your feet

Wordlessly gazing into each other’s eyes

My only surprise is that they overlooked candles and dinner.

Much better idea than the stupid bathtubs.

As yet another obnoxious blinking ad (the stupid bathtub people) intrudes on my reading an article on my homepage, I am prompted to finally google it and found many posts. The above article touches on two very relevant issues: Meaningless BS that advertisers put in their ads to appear cool or deep or super creative and the fact that most of us don’t want to be forced to imagine what is going on in the sex lives of those who need to use these types of drugs. ALL of these commercials are a turn off and that is exactly what I do when they air-turn them off. The actors are dorky and the situations are so pathetically phony it’s ridiculous. With that said, comments made above about the pharmaceutical ads in general are so true. These companies have created nation’s full of people taking drugs to cure a range of symptoms most of us have experienced at one time or another. It’s criminal, especially considering the rambling disclaimers. How foolish we are to succumb to their claims of relief only to chance any of the hundreds of side effects. On a lighter note, I think considering the actual drug name for Cialis is Tadalifil, a more appropriate ad campaign would be: He: “TADA! LOOK HONEY! IT’S MAGIC!” She: “NICE WAND!” I could go on, but then my post might be censored. 🙂

Cialis Bathtub

I hate to say this but Lily is just reminding us that even though

all parties are smiling because performance was restored and that the ED sufferer and his partner have just completed a “Dirty Act”,

hence just like the old days Men on the left and Women on the right,except they are rebels and are holding hand’s in defiance.

It must work

Advertisers sometimes try something that doesn’t work, and they usually find that out pretty quickly. If they keep using some advertising ploy over and over, over a long period of time, it must be because it works. The tubs must work, or at least help. Whatever they mean. I’m only disappointed that as much experience I have in recognizing subliminal advertising techniques, I haven’t figured this one out yet.

All you need is a little empathy. The target is a man who is afraid of losing his wife to a man who can perform, while he cannot. He has tremendous performance anxiety. There are several images at work:

1. What can a man’s body do in a warm bath that it cannot do in a cold shower?

2. The individual bath provides the peace and security of a womb.

3. They hold hands, so they are sharing this sensual experience without the performance pressure.

4. Their relationship is safe and intimate, his parts work and she is not going anywhere.

5. And yes, it is a very silly image, but it does make sense.

The Cialis Twin Bathtubs

I think you’re being a bit prudish here. Nonetheless, the bathtubs are enigmatic, appearing to represent the twin beds of Ozzie and Harriet days. Perhaps pops is just going to admire his erection – perhaps showing it off to milf – and NOT put it to its intended use. After all if it’s not for procreation, coitus is certainly not deemed proper republican behavior, unless practiced with someone else’s spouse (perhaps in Argentina) while decrying public morality and the morality of one’s political adversaries.

As physicians, we all should know that showering is more appropriate than bathing in a tub for cleansing – and preparation for the many activities associated with foreplay and coition. After showering a nice warm jacuzzi in an accommodating (i.e., large) tub would certainly be a nice and appropriate venue for enjoying one’s four hour erection.

I suspect that most mature persons retain the feelings of shame and guilt which were likely imposed upon them as children, so the solo soaks in “twin tubs,” may in some way relieve them of the sinful post-orgasmic feelings they continue to impose upon themselves.

The ad IS effective, because we all recognize and remember it. And, as you imply, I certainly can’t believe that MY parents EVER had sex.

I didnt' get that message

I don’t think the bathtubs represent anything; they’re simply LITERAL bathtubs at a spa on a beach, showing an image of older people spending time together doing things like watching the sunset together. yep, in bathtubs.

And that image is what makes it so revolting when placed in a sexual context, i.e. “you’re never too much of an old fogey to DO it!”

All that’s missing are the denture-glasses, walkers, golf-pants and scooters, and everything else that makes it so much more nauseating when every fiber of one’s being literally just wants to scream at them “CUT THE DENIAL GRAMPS, YOU’RE PAST IT!”

No matter HOW “open-minded” you may be.

Two tubs advertising

I lecture often on intimacy and sexuality. I also have pondered the bathtubs, but I now tell a joke like this:

“Hollywood is under pressure not to show people using cigarettes. So now rather than saying you can _smoke_ after sex, you can SOAK after sex.” (Pa-dum-pum) “well guess KI’d better keep my day job.”

Usually there is an appreciative groan after that one.

Re: . you can SOAK after sex.

I lecture often on intimacy and sexuality. I also have pondered the bathtubs, but I now tell a joke like this:

“Hollywood is under pressure not to show people using cigarettes. So now rather than saying you can _smoke_ after sex, you can SOAK after sex.” (Pa-dum-pum) “well guess KI’d better keep my day job.”

Usually there is an appreciative groan after that one.

Don’t knock yourself, anonymous, it is funny, and appropriate. A lady, if asked whether she smokes during or after sex, should never answer other, than saying, “I’ve never looked.”

Appropriate smoking sometimes precedes many better encounters.

And then of course, a truly excellent session generally entails considerable exertion and considerable time, by themselves will often SOAK both participants.

The Answer

The two bathtubs have long been the symbol for Cialis, a drug to treat erectile dysfunction that competes against Viagra (as well as Levitra). I would imagine, dear reader, that the people at Eli Lilly, who have spent billions of dollars to market Cialis, will be profoundly depressed that you confused the two brands.

In any event, the bathtubs have been featured in Cialis advertising since the product came out. The tubs are symbols of relaxing, taking your time, not hurrying, in that a bath is more relaxing than a shower. They reflected that from the start, Cialis advertising was warmer and gentler than ads for Viagra — more feminine, as it were. Other cues included a color scheme of yellow and pastel green and the name, pronounced “See-Alice.”

The differences are meant to underline a basic difference between Cialis and its rivals: while Viagra and Levitra provide a four-hour window during which a man can get and keep an erection, Cialis opens that window to 36 hours.

The continuous presence of women in Cialis ads is a subtle signal that the drug can help them set the pace with their partners, in contrast to the primarily male-driven imagery for Levitra and Viagra. For that reason, Europeans have called Cialis “le weekend” drug.

The longtime agency for Cialis is Grey New York, part of the Grey Group unit of WPP.

It's still gross.

“Relaxing and taking your time” with a soak in bathtubs on the beach, is something appropriate for the retirement-spa, not the budoir. It just sense a message that these people and sex DO NOT MIX, without inciting nausea. Why not two walkers?

It's still gross

When I read all of these snide comments, obviously written by the younger generation, I can’t help but wonder how all of you will feel when you are the one’s resting in the two bath tubs, and reading remarks such as these posted by young, self-centered, uncaring individuals who aren’t even intelligent enough to realize that just because you got older, doesn’t mean that you still don’t have feelings, and desires, and still long for the touch and closeness of your spouse.

I once heard that it’s better to keep your mouth closed and let people “think” that you’re stupid, than to open it and prove them right. Some of you. really need to take the time to THINK before you open your mouth. God willing. the day will come when YOU will be the one in the tub!

I guess the image of two colostomy-bags wasn't gross enough.

I had this impression that there were was a spa for old people which has bathtubs for the geriatrics to soak in and watch the sunset together. My reaction is that if you do things like that, you’re just too old to have sex. period.

Not that older people shouldn’t have sex; but soaking in a bathtub on a beach isn’t older– it’s just “OLD,” as in the disgusting habits of old people that are simply incompatible with the health and vigor associated with sex. Other things include denture-glasses, outlandish pajamas, lack of discreetness, and other curmudgeonly behavior that would put anyone off.

the bathtubs

I AGREE that the bathtubs send such a confusing and message that turns me off to this brand of drug. 1- why are they separated if the drug brings them closer together? I just watched an ad where the woman is rubbing the hard wood arm of a park bench, then smiles at her (supposedly now) drug available honey. well, I did get a giggle out of the suggestion.

For years, I’ve asked – WUwtB! What’s Up with the Bathtubs? Let’s get them in one hot tub at least if we need some sort of immersible water ending.

The Cialis

I have listened to my husband gripe about the two Cialas bathtubs and his amazement as to what possible meaning they could have. I find it hysterical that he has come to the desperation of actually search terming this on the web to make his point that it isn’t just him!

It is really funny to me that the obsession with this seems to be coming from primarily men. It has never held my attention for more than a minute.

You gotta hand it to the advertisers here. If we are all still talking about it this many years later they must be doing something right!

The old joke that sex is 98% imagination and 2% cleanup suggests the separate bath tubs.

I suppose the now iconic twin tubs would have faded into quick obscurity had Cialis not been so successful, and had the marketing not been so ubiquitous. I’m loathe to admit it, but I suspect I’d find any commercial that interrupts the sacred bond my favorite shows and I share equally vexing. Frankly, I prefer to see two mature adults sharing a subtle wink and smile than an endless parade of impossibly attractive teens selling images of endless youth, and the message that life ends at 30. Particularly distasteful, a recent ad for self-care product wherein a young man, admiring himself in a mirror shares an inner dialogue, “I’d kiss me. I’d f* me” (word is interrupted by a noise but clearly understood). Really!? I’m open minded, in my 40’s, and no angel to be sure, but I’m repulsed. What shocks me most isn’t this open vulgarity and display of narcissism in a major ad, but that the marketing department would take such a chance in appealing to a particular demographic. Equally shocking, that there is such a demographic that sees themselves as that young man and now buys that product, but I digress. Cialis may have interrupted my programming with their inane sunset-beach-tubs-no towels around scene, but at least I can now ponder erections and lack thereof when I luxuriate in my tub.

Good points Dr. Jake

Thanks for your comment. You’re right to point out that there’s a lot to be said for the portrayal of couples over forty being sexual. I haven’t seen the ad you described about the young man in love with himself, but it sounds awful. When I wrote this post I was focussing more on the irritation I felt when I couldn’t make out the meaning in a message. I wanted to say something about human beings natural search for meaning, and wasn’t thinking about the positive portrayal of adult sexuality.

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What about the dancing diabetes drug advertisment

The bathtub commercials I could never understand. But now another drug company has started advertising a certain diabetes drug in which everyone is dancing in the TV commercial.

I thought: shouldn’t the couple with the ED drug be the ones dancing?

Cialis ads

Even more irritating than their older ads in which the randy couple is sposed to get romantic in separate bathtubs, the new voiceover recommends taking Cialis, not because it’ll give you a woody but because you don’t want to take the time to “take a pill”. how much time does it take to take a pill. maybe 2 seconds? And the other confusing copy says you want to take Cialis rather than having to “find a bathroom”. Why do you need to find a bathroom. so you don’t have to take a pill in public? What pinheads create these ads and what executives think they’re good ads?

Cialis, and finding a bathroom.

We have had that same question ever since that dumb ad came on television. Please someone explain that comment about having to find a bathroom rather than use Cialis. What are they insinuating? The ad is so annoying . Please stop!

Empirical Perspective or Empirical Blindness?

A bathtub, for many, is an icon of comfort and cleansing after a long, hard day or several days (depending on your culture). Many take relaxing, hot baths. Why wouldn’t a bathtub be used to trigger a response in the subconscious therefore of the anxiety and stress melting away? Why not add in the union between male and female to that concept with the holding hands? Why not connect it with the purity and sanctity of nature with the ocean backdrop?

Surely it would have the complete opposite effect if the bathtubs were father apart and atop building overlooking a concrete jungle as that concept spurs the competitive, stressed-out side of us. Rather, the relaxing farthest-from-our-daily-anguish concept of a beach was used. Do people violate beaches with commercial buildings or competitive business? If not, why would the idea of placing objects of stress relief in a sacred natural environ for the subconscious to latch on to the complete idea as we are sitting there vegging out? Perhaps it’s the environment you find yourself in that is generating the stress, confusion and discomfort and you are projecting that into the commercial’s attempt to portray something beautiful (in an eccentric way, but still).

This may not be a complete

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if cialis may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

Hate Cialis Commercials

These costly commercials that the producers of Cialis are airing on almost every cable channel, even during children’s movies. It’s a annoying and inappropriate but these are over-sexed perverts who more concerned with the size of their wallets than helping men. Please remove these stupid commercials.

The graphic logo for cialis

The colorful cialis C logo looks very much like an ultrasonic scan image of a testicle and its epidiymus taken through the scrotum.

Cialis Bathtubs

I have an idea. Is this a subconcious way of hinting that they may be cooling off in a tub of ice? That would definitely hint at the effectiveness of the medication. Just a thought.

They annoy the heck out of me too, but.

you’ll always remember the Cialis bath tubs and that’s the point.

Just a clever marketing ploy.

“What is with those darn CIALIS BATH TUBS!”

Those Damn Tubs !

The answer to the tubs is simple as well as disgusting. Anybody who has good sex winds up sweaty and has body fluids all over the place. It’s plain and simple, but this kind of advertising belongs in the privacy of one’s bathroom and not the Atlantic Ocean !

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About the Author

Prudence Gourguechon, M.D., served as President of the American Psychoanalytic Association from 2008-2010. She has a clinical and consulting practice in Chicago.

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