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California and the West

Ads seek to boost Botox image

February 02, 2007|From Reuters

The maker of the wrinkle-smoothing blockbuster drug Botox -- used by Hollywood's elite and news anchors everywhere -- is taking jokes about its most famous product seriously.

Despite booming sales, Irvine-based drug maker Allergan Inc. said this week that it would address the common stereotype that injections of Botox froze the face, preventing users from making expressions. The company is set to launch a print and television advertising campaign this year dubbed "Freedom of Expression."

Botox, which is made from the same bacteria that causes the food-borne illness botulism, works by blocking the transmission of nerve impulses to facial muscles to reduce frowning and smooth out wrinkles.

Allergan spokeswoman Caroline Van Hove, who declined to provide further details about the content of the new advertisements, said the aim of the campaign would be to dispel what she called myths about the treatments.

"We want to clearly communicate that while Botox can help women enhance facial appearance, it does not freeze the face and it will enable them to have full facial expressions," she said.

But some media strategists said the company should think twice before going forward with a campaign that played directly off the criticism, especially in light of growing concern that consumer advertising of medical products sometimes misleads the public.

"I don't think it gives you freedom of expression, first of all, so I don't think it's believable," said Alan Siegel, an advertising strategist for the firm Siegel & Gale and a consultant for medical device makers.

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