Samantha Allen takes stock of Viagra’s legacy. While its impact on older men’s sex lives hasn’t quite measured up to the hype, its impact on dick-related comedy has been outstanding:
According to The Wall Street Journal, it took Jay Leno only four years to make nearly 1,000 Viagra jokes on The Tonight Show. In 2008, too, TIME published a compilation of 10 years of Viagra jokes. Saturday Night Live, in particular, has a long history of constantly returning to the well of Viagra humor with parody commercials and a particularly memorable installment of the popular Ladies Man sketch. If you were in the business of telling jokes in the 2000s, Viagra and erectile dysfunction were the gifts that kept on giving. And 15 years later, comedians are still keeping it up. Just last week, for instance, Conan O’Brien compared the iPhone 6’s issues with bending to erectile dysfunction in a mock advertisement.
To an extent, Pfizer’s advertising has embraced the humor of Viagra throughout the drug’s history. While Pfizer tends to play it straight in the U.S. with straightforward advertisements that show men involved a variety of manly tasks like surfing, sailing, and commercial fishing, their international approach has been much more light-hearted. In South Africa, for example, Pfizer promoted the drug with a playfully suggestive image of a milkman re-buttoning his jacket as he leaves an estate. A Saudi Arabian television ad for Viagra shows a man struggling to push a straw through the lid of his beverage. And a Canadian spot promotes Viagra as a way for men to get out of tedious household responsibilities like helping out with the redecorating.