Pepto-Bismol “Rex”

Since Pepto-Bismol’s 2004 introduction of its ridiculously catchy diarrhea dance — the one where everyone from average Joes to movie monsters shake their booties to the “Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea” jingle — countless renditions have appeared on YouTube. It’s one of those unexpected culture connections made using the hokiest strategy. But for better or worse, it works.

In this latest ad for the stomach remedy, there are no macarena-like moves highlighting the symptoms the brand claims to relieve. Instead, the litany is heard in the telephone greeting of a receptionist at what appears to be Pepto headquarters, where most everything including his tie and sweater vest is rendered in the brand’s familiar pink hue.

A customer calling the help line wants to make sure “Rex,” who appears to have eaten through every leftover in the house including dog treats, has covered. The rep tells her canines aren’t covered. In a predictable turn, the spot reveals that it’s not the dog lounging on her lap that has the bellyache, but her husband lying bloated and moaning besides her. The voiceover reminds viewers, “Whatever your stomach problem, Pepto keeps you covered.”

It’s a forgettable execution that has none of the allure of the dance spots. Those have grown tiresome, but the viewer is so jarred by the absurdity of it all, that the product points are ultimately well taken. In those ads, the brand at least seems to have a sense of humor. Here, it just seems to have, well, indigestion. –Eleftheria Parpis