Orthodontists Bite Back at DTC Brands With Parody Videos About At-Home Treatments

Hilarious video series from trade group has logged 10 million views so far

Maybe DTC isn't exactly the right way to go. American Association of Orthodontists
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There’s a new gadget that can correct your vision problems in the comfort of your own home, for a fraction of the cost of laser surgery at a specialist’s office. Same for those pesky broken bones and crooked teeth, with a remedy-in-a-box delivered right to your door.

Wanna try them out?

In a series of Saturday Night Live-style parody videos, a medical group is warning against such do-it-yourself treatments that have proliferated in recent years. Some things, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, are best left to the professionals.

They’re talking to you, consumers, if you’re tempted to go the cheap and lockdown-ready route by playing doctor to yourself. This isn’t a quarantine haircut, after all. And they’re specifically advising people not to buy teeth-straightening devices online.

The ads are targeting SmileDirectClub and other companies in the fast-growing teledentistry category with a fairly brutal takedown wrapped in some decent sight gags.

The trade association worked with St. Louis-based production company Coolfire Studios and its own seven-person in-house marketing team on the video series, which rolled out in May. It’s part of a larger campaign to address what the group calls “a dangerous trend” in the DTC space that bypasses “in-person care provided by trained experts” in favor of DIY orthodontia.

The flagship video, “Happy Mouth Now,” features a woman creating her own mold at home for an Invisalign-type product. That looks easy—or does it?

And the sequel, “Happy Mouth Now Store,” introduces a retailer with stacks of product promising a million-dollar smile but no dentists or orthodontists on-site to oversee the process. Instead, the guys who work there—wearing identical fright wigs, fake mustaches and cult-like stares—are called “mouth helpers.”

A third long-form video, starring a skate punk and the world’s most affected influencer, pokes fun at celebrity endorsements and staged testimonials.

The orthodontist group takes several pointed digs at its DTC competitors, calling them out for their ubiquitous advertising and sales-first tactics.

“We didn’t want this important message to fall on deaf ears with a typical PSA, so we knew we needed to do something truly creative to break through,” said spokeswoman Brynne Cramer, who noted that the team wanted to “create assets that are more cohesive and impactful.”

The fourth video in the series, “Happy Eyes Now,” takes a slight detour away from dental health and goes full satire on home care. It shows a character hoping to get 20/20 vision by strapping a crude, torturous-looking contraption onto her head. “It’s just as simple as point and click,” says the narrator. “Just don’t point it at anything of value, and don’t click any of the buttons.”

Blinded by the VR goggles from hell, the character falls down a flight of stairs. Good thing she has the “Happy Bones Now” kit for mending her own broken leg.

Orthodontists don’t have skin in the game on Lasik or other non-dental medical procedures, but the trade group is making an exaggerated point about cutting doctors out of the equation while showing off their comedy chops.

The AAO, in its most significant foray into content marketing, has made the videos the centerpiece of a broader educational effort, issuing a consumer alert about teledentistry practices and keeping close tabs on legal challenges to DTC companies. (There are links on its website to an NBC News investigation into SmileDirectClub, for instance, along with its own press releases pointing out the easily missed fine print in DTC brands’ waivers and consent forms.)

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@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.