Friday, July 08, 2005

Annie Get Your Scalp Treated

The increased prevalence of digital television recorders is giving more and more people the ability to skip commercials and get right to the next riveting segment of the Hilton’s. Traditionally, product placement has involved consumer products. But other advertisers are getting into the act as well. An article in Advertising Age’s publication Madison + Vine announced that the American Heart Association has negotiated a deal to get heart disease a leading role on an episode of a medical drama that airs on Lifetime Television. Presumably, the association will have some control over the content of the episode in exchange for their dollars.

This could work locally as well. SIU Physicians and Surgeons are underwriting the Muni Opera’s upcoming production of Annie Get Your Gun. They are also seeking patients to participate in a national study for the treatment of atopic dermatitis. Why not use the popular musical as a vehicle to recruit volunteers for the study?

Granted this would require a little tweaking of the script. A subplot would have to be developed and written into the script. It could go something like this.

Whenever Annie Oakley takes off her hat, the flakes of dry infected skin that fall like snow upon her elaborately embroidered vest leave her hurt and embarrassed. She becomes withdrawn and loses her confidence, no longer believing that she can shoot a partridge with a single cartridge.

But then Frank Butler recognizes the source of her anguish. In an act of love and devotion, he reveals that he too suffers from an inflammatory scalp disease that he has learned to control. What’s more, others have overcome the condition and later became noted for their marksmanship. He breaks into song*:

Just like Aaron Burr, William Tell, Robin Hood
Just like all those dudes
I have eczema too.

During the third chorus, Chief Sitting Bull enters stage right wearing a sandwich board displaying the phone number that the audience can call to participate in the SIU study.

After the song is through, Annie, comforted in the thought that she is not alone, gets the help that she needs. The show then continues on just as Irving Berlin intended.

It’s a great idea and I’ll be really surprised if SIU doesn’t run with it.

*This is actually funny if you know the melody to the song, "I'm an Indian Too", from the musical Annie Get Your Gun, words and music by Irving Berlin. Otherwise, probably not.

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