Dynamic Chiropractic – June 3, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 12

Priceless Promotion: MasterCard Features Chiropractic in Ad

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

Almost everyone with access to a newspaper, a television or the Internet (and that means just about everyone these days, certainly in the majority of developed countries) is familiar with MasterCard's long-running "Priceless" advertising campaign.

The often humorous and satiric campaign has been a staple of MasterCard's advertising message for years.

One of the latest television commercials featuring this message, "Scenic," starts off with a man standing on a steep hill with his camera.1 As the man pauses to listen to the announcer, he falls down the hill, tumbling over ever-steeper terrain and eventually landing at the bottom. On the man's way down, the voiceover announcer remarks:

  • Ibuprofen: $12
  • X-rays: $90
  • Chiropractor: $200

While it's always nice to see "chiropractic" or "chiropractor" mentioned in a positive sense, this may be a small, but significant, milestone for us. The MasterCard "Priceless" commercials regularly feature well-known celebrities and highlight subjects with which everyone can identify. The items and values are presented as a progression, usually in a comical environment, that leads to a point. (By the way, in this particular commercial, the "point," according to MasterCard, is that while all of the above "services" have a price, finding a smarter way to shop online - which presumably would have led to a less expensive camera being destroyed and requiring replacement - is priceless.)

In this case, the initial tumble down the hill looks as if it could be addressed by Ibuprofen (not that I'm endorsing the use of over-the-counter pain medication). As the tumble becomes more serious, it is clear that X-rays might be a good idea. The tumble ends in a free fall of about 10 feet; clearly time for a chiropractor. As I see it, the progression is:

  • Minor pains - use Ibuprofen
  • Concerned that you hurt yourself - get an X-ray
  • Need care - go see your chiropractor

While this commercial probably won't be driving patients to your office (But who knows?), it has become part of the public consciousness about chiropractic. The subliminal messages is, well, not so subliminal. In fact, in my book, it's quite clear: Go directly to your chiropractor without referral; it's what any person would do when they injure themselves this way - and don't bother considering medical care as an option.

Sounds good so far, but what about the values presented for each? Ibuprofen for $12? Seems a bit high for two pills. Maybe you have to take the whole bottle to get the results you need. X-ray for $90. That isn't too bad, but that's only to see if you broke anything.

Chiropractor for $200. There doesn't seem to be any debate on this value proposition in the commercial. It is stated as matter-of-factly as the other two. In my opinion, most viewers would see this as the cost for care - in addition to the cost for the X-rays.

Perhaps the only real criticism (if there is one) is that some viewers may not realize that a doctor of chiropractic can take X-rays as well as provide the needed care. But most people would probably rule out the X-ray step unless they thought they'd broken a bone.

Thankfully, the reputation of chiropractic has come a long way. We have overcome the prejudices that were part of the propaganda spread during a time when our society believed everything their medical doctor (and the AMA) told them. Not so today. MasterCard Worldwide, one of the largest companies in the world, is comfortable including chiropractic in its expensive and well-known television advertising campaign, giving us the highest value (in a monetary and professional sense) and applying our care appropriately to an injury. Maybe we are a lot more mainstream than we realize.


  1. Watch the television commercial online at: www.priceless.com/us/personal/en/pricelesstv/index.html. Please note that it loads slowly, which means you may have to wait 60 seconds or more to see it. Also keep in mind that the segment is titled "Scenic," in case the wrong segment starts to play for some reason.

Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/wrblog/. You can also visit me on Facebook.

Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.


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