Bob Jarvik has no right to sing 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat.' Asa congressional committee gears up to investigate DTC advertising and, in particular, Pfizer's Lipitor pitchman, we now learn that the celebrated doc never goes rowing. Never mind that he's depicted as an avid rower in a Lipitor ad ( try this). The drugmaker's ad agency, it so happens, hired a stunt double for the scene, The New York Times writes. “He’s about as much an outdoorsman as Woody Allen,” a longtime collaborator, O.H. Frazier of the Texas Heart Institute, tells the paper. “He can’t row.”
A newsletter published by the Lake Washington Rowing Club in Seattle describes how one of its rowers was a stunt double in the ad for Jarvik, the paper writes. The sculler, a professional photographer and rowing enthusiast named Dennis Williams, was picked partly for his size and partly because, like Jarvik, he has a receding hairline, according to the newsletter, which said a crew filmed the commercial for three days at Lake Crescent, near Port Angeles, Wash.
In the ad, Mr. Williams was shown as a solitary sculler navigating an unspoiled lake. Through deft editing, he appeared to be Jarvik. But, in fact, the frames that actually included Jarvik were shot in a rowing apparatus on a platform, according to the newsletter. The ad agency, the Kaplan Thaler Group, declined to comment, referring all questions to Pfizer. Pfizer would not comment on the sculling ad, but defended the Jarvik campaign. Here is Jarvik's statement from last month, when his creds were first questioned.
UPDATE: ABC News reports Jarvik was paid $1.35 million. With that much money, maybe he ought to take rowing lessons.