Toshiba's latest TV ad doesn't leave ACRO laughing

A new commercial meant to promote Toshiba's latest laptop has struck the wrong chord with ACRO and clinical researchers. The representative body for CROs isn't pleased with Toshiba, calling its TV ad offensive to clinical research and test subjects. Adding insult to injury is that Toshiba works in the medical device industry, producing imaging systems.

In the commercial promoting the Satellite Ultrabook laptop, a self-described "professional medical test subject" will stand for being "a guinea pig," but won't settle for a faulty computer. He goes through a number of procedures that leave him with purple skin, excess hair growth and spasms, but fortunately, his Ultrabook stays perfectly intact.  

Slapstick aside, ACRO failed to see the humor. "We were quite distressed by it and now our members are getting feedback from their employees," said ACRO Vice President of Public Affairs John Lewis. "They find this offensive."

In turn, ACRO Executive Director Doug Peddicord wrote a letter to Toshiba America President and CEO Yoshihide Fujii, chastising his business for the ad. Six days later, Toshiba America's Director of Marketing Communications Tom Hume replied with a four-sentence note. Its message: Toshiba is sorry for any transgression and promises to take ACROs concerns into consideration with future advertising. Despite a call to Toshiba America's California office, FierceCRO has yet to receive a response.

Purple skin, flailing limbs and unibrows are not meant to be taken seriously. Regardless of sarcasm, Toshiba dropped the ball, according to Lewis. "It reinforces a negative image of clinical trials and the people that take part in them," he said. "If you're a sitcom, you have no social responsibility. Toshiba, as a corporation, should have more sensitivity about that."

The commercial may not help overcome the struggles in clinical research as of late, notably with subject enrollment. Professionals are trying to improve the pediatric trial process to entice more kids to take part. And there are so few cancer patients willing to enroll in drug trials, even experts are confused. Interestingly enough, Toshiba has four active clinical trials, according to Lewis.

- watch the commercial on YouTube
- read ACRO's letter to Toshiba
- then read Toshiba's response

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