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January 27, 2011

Catch VD? No thanks.

TV: The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries comes back from its winter hiatus today, and as anyone who's spent much time here knows, I love this show madly. What I don't love, though, is the new ad campaign with which the network is heralding the show's return. It's . . . unsavory, to say the least.

First, the billboards: They started out as black backgrounds with just the words "CATCH VD." And they're being replaced by images of the actors - with the same tagline.

Next appeared the promo and a poster version of the billboard:

Now, the "Got Wood?" tagline, on its own, would probably make me roll my eyes but not be particularly upset. But "Catch VD"? No no no. There are any number of reasons why this is bad: It's completely illogical, since obviously the proper response is to turn and run in the other direction. It helps ensure that the show will never be taken seriously. It cheapens the image of hard-working actors whose images are linked with it. It makes even parents who are themselves fans of the show feel weird about watching it with their kids. Fans call it TVD, anyway, and fan sites like Vampire-Diaries.net have deliberately encouraged that abbreviation to avoid things like this. (For that matter, what is this, 1970? STD is the commonly-used term now anyway.) It has certainly created buzz among people who already watch, but a totally unscientific poll of my Twitter followers indicated that people who have never seen the show are just turned off by it. In addition, it has nothing to do with the show itself. (That's where I think it's different from the controversial Gossip Girl OMFG ads a few years ago. Those were at least relevant, and not misleading.) I mean, really, of all the dangers inherent in a visit to Mystic Falls, I think STDs are pretty low on the list of things to worry about.*

But here's my real problem with it: This ad campaign uses a very real, serious health issue as a cheap joke in order to sell something. If someone made an ad campaign that said "Cancer is awesome and sexy!", people would be up in arms. (Now that I think about it, Alzheimer's is the disease that's probably played for laughs the most, and that drives me crazy too.) Disease - no matter what kind - is not funny, or risque, or alluring. That's it.

Does this change how I feel about the show? No, of course not. But it adds yet another caveat to my usual spiel when I defend the show and the fact that the CW is worth watching, even for adults, and it means more potential viewers who will never be convinced.

* Since I have been told that I "don't get the joke," let me just point out that that sentence was facetious. I get the joke. I just don't think it's funny.

Posted by Kat at January 27, 2011 07:26 AM

Thanks for the post. You express my feelings succinctly. Many of us fans feel the same way. Disappointed in the CW marketing department.

Posted by: MarcellineCazz at January 27, 2011 07:34 AM

Well said, Kate. VERY well said.

Posted by: Lee at January 27, 2011 10:05 AM
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