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Monday, Nov. 5, 2007

A Few Questions for CVS

By Holly Buchanan
November 5th, 2007

CVS caregiver campaignDear CVS,

I recently saw your “Caregiver” TV commercial. I also went to the website you created for the campaign – The website has a place for caregivers to post their stories and enter a contest to win cash and a trip. I applaud you. These stories really are inspirational and authentic. But I was curious what this promotional contest has to do with CVS. So I clicked on the link to your TV commercial to watch it again.

Here’s the copy from the TV commercial:

“It’s in your nature to care for others. To listen, to advise, to always be there. Isn’t it nice that there’s a pharmacy that cares as much as you do? CVS/pharmacy. For all the ways you care.”

I’m so delighted to hear that. I would love to shop at a pharmacy that cares as much as I do. I would gladly give my business to a company that truly cares about caregivers.

In your TV commercial, the loving caregiver turns out to be a CVS pharmacist. So it sounds like you are saying your pharmacists are caregivers themselves. So could you please tell me:

  • What percentage of your pharmacists are women?
  • What percentage of your pharmacists are single mothers?
  • What percentage of your pharmacists are single dads?
  • What percentage of your pharmacists are caring for an aging or ailing parent?
  • And how does their experience as a caregiver at home affect their behavior at work?

Along those same lines…

  • What great understanding of caregivers do you actually have?
  • How have you applied that understanding to your shopping experience?

I’m not being facetious here, I’m genuinely interested in your answers. You see, you’ve just made a huge claim; that CVS cares as much as caregivers do. I just want to know if it’s true.

My mother is that very caregiver you’re trying to reach. My father was bed-ridden for 10 years. She was his full-time caretaker. In the last 2 years, she didn’t go out to dinner once because she didn’t want to leave his side.

You imply you understand her, so do you know how that feels? How many CVS pharmacists or executives haven’t gone out to dinner for two entire years — not once?

As his primary caretaker, my mother felt responsible for keeping my father alive. She was scared, exhausted and felt very alone. Many times she needed help or advice late at night. Do you have a pharmacist on duty 24 hours that she could call?

When she had a dizzy spell and had to go the the emergency room, she was so sick she couldn’t even sit up in the hospital bed — but her only concern was getting home to Dad.

I see where you’re trying to go with the animated fairy-tale commercial. Believe me, I’m the sappy Humanistic type you’re trying to reach. I tear up at Kodak commercials. I can’t walk into an animal shelter without coming out with three pups under each arm. But this commercial didn’t connect with me emotionally. I couldn’t relate to the caregiver caricature.

What could you have done to connect with me emotionally? I’m so glad you asked! Show me a commercial with a woman scared and alone, connecting with a CVS pharmacist. Show me a commercial with statistics proving your pharmacists are caregivers themselves. Let them tell their stories. Talk about specific changes you’ve made in your stores to accommodate caregivers. (For example: “We know the one thing you don’t have as a caregiver is free time. So for every shift, we have at least three people behind the checkout counters so you don’t have to wait in a long line.”) Specifics are far more powerful than general statements.

“Isn’t it nice there’s a pharmacy that cares as much as you do” It would be nice – but does the CVS Caremark Corp (CVS) really care as much as caregivers do? Do you care as much as my mother? That’s a huge statement. HUGE. Saying you care as much as caregivers do — do you really appreciate the magnitude of that claim? Can you live up to it?

I look forward to your response.


P.S. If you’d like to see what other people are saying about the campaign, be sure to read Bob Garfield’s Advertising Age article and check out the lively discussion in the comment section.

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Comments (25)

  1. Thanks for this posting, Holly. The commercial manages to patronize caregivers and trivialize caregiving at the same time. There is a crucial difference between “caring” and “caring for” but the CVS ad works hard to confound the two.

    Let’s face it. “Caring” is pretty easy. You can sit in a comfy chair and wring your hands with concern about matters great and small until you decide you’ve suffered enough. You can “care” your heart out half the night, and you don’t actually have to do anything.

    “Caring for” is a different ballgame altogether. CVS may “care,” but the hard work of “caring for” falls to the caregiver.

  2. [...] I didn’t know about the CVS “For all the ways you care” commercial until I read Holly Buchanan’s post on GrokDotCom because I almost never watch TV anymore. But I clicked on the link Holly provided and watched the [...]

  3. My mother was a caregiver for over 20 years of her life, yet I’m in disagreement with this blog post. My thoughts on the CVS commercial? It’s just an ad. CVS is a huge corporation whose copywriters thought they’d reach out to their caregiver customers and let them know that they have the products they need and pharmacists who can answer their questions.

    What I can appreciate is the fact that they are showing a bit of what caregiving is about to the rest of the world who knows nothing about it. They’re acknowledging that they exist and that they matter, and that’s definitely a good thing. If they stumble upon a blog post like this one though, it may cause them to hesitate on doing the same thing ever again.

    I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but in today’s world I hope that nobody is really expecting a commercial to be that heartfelt. At most they really do care about the caregivers who shop in their stores–but the commercial is still just trying to reach into your wallet and grab them some extra green. That’s what commercials are for. It doesn’t mean they’re deceptive–it just means they’re doing business.

    About your mom–I hope that you go and spend lots of time with her while you can, or at least make a lot of calls or send a lot of emails to her–since she’s so wrapped up in caregiving (as mine used to be) and doesn’t take time for herself that she may really need. Caregivers are the real angels in this world. Make sure that she knows that.

  4. Anonymous,

    Thank you for your post. I applaud anyone who recognizes caregivers and the often overlooked and undervalued work they do. My hope is not to chastise CVS, but to encourage them to truly reach out to these very important individuals.

    I have stayed very close to my mother. My father died two years ago and it has taken her this long to come out on the other side. She still does not take care of herself :) But I will definitely take your advice and make sure I spend quality time with her. That’s what it’s really all about.

  5. Hi,
    I was the caregiver for my husband for 30 years, until his death, last March 17.

    I have since been diagnosed with Alzeminer’s (I hope this is the way to spell it — spelling is the first thing to go with this disease) Disease.

    Arlene Evans

  6. I agree with the Anonymous poster. The CVS ad is infinitely better than the countless drug ads that show happy people in serene surroundings while talking about the side effects of the advertised drug. Yes, I agree with you- It does not sound completely genuine, but again, most ads are not.

    I am not a caregiver (yet) and I might be wrong, but from a neutral perspective, the ad looks good to me.

  7. You post is great. I, too, posted about the CVS commercial:

    I think it is great they are actually acknowledging caregivers. Although I admit, I was confused by the CG changing into the white jacket. I agree it is a big leap to call a pharmacist a caregiver.

    Happy blogging!

  8. Hello all,

    I am proud to say that I am a CVS pharmacist. I am happy that CVS has developed this advertisement campaign, to truly champion all the caregivers who bring comfort, safety, and care to all those whom depend on them.

    The practice of pharmacy is very involved, and currently takes seven years of education (by earning a doctorate degree in pharmacy), and I can tell you that nothing drove me harder through school than the motivation of the multiple possibilities of being able to help care for, and maintain the health of thousands of patients.

    Everyone has a calling in life, mine was pharmacy. Those whom are called to the profession of pharmacy must genuinely care about people, and must also actively seek to be part of many peoples lives, in the role of a health care provider.

    As I said above, I am proud to be a CVS pharmacist. With a shortage of pharmacist nation wide, I could have my choosing of employment, and I chose CVS because I believe in the companies values of placing the highest priority on the health, safety, and wellbeing of our patients and customers.

    To briefly answer someone’s question as to the availability of a pharmacist 24 hours a day: the answer is simply yes, at least at CVS. While not all CVS locations are 24 hours, there is always at least one 24 hour store location in every CVS district, and at all 24 hour stores there is a licensed pharmacist available all 24 hours of the day, 365 days a year, rain or shine, holiday or not Рa pharmacist is there because a pharmacist cares.

    Nick A. Pharm.D.
    University of Michigan

  9. I just finished reading your story, I can relate to your mothers situation, we all can in one way or another, we all have a caregiver story, from the sounds of it you are more frustrated with your Dad being sick and your mother insisting on taking care of everything, at any cost, understandable, but to be honest, I think CVS has come up with a beautiful ad, I think you are reading way to much into it, maybe if you took the time to find a home health aid to assist with your Dad, instead of taking your frustrations out on CVS and their pharmacists. They are employees of CVS they dont handle the marketing of CVS, and in answer to your question concerning a pharmacist being on call 24 hrs a day, I believe the answer is yes, there are alot of CVS stores that are open 24 hrs a day. I wish you and yours the best.

  10. You know, I’m reading all of this and I’m seeing “well its just a commericial” and hearing “CVS do you really care…do you?” This is the first time I’ve seen a company actually reach out to caregivers. So my question to you Holly and everyone else – You have a compelling is a company that is reaching out to you, instead of asking the questions as to how much they care. I want to take a proactive approach. So, my question to you is- what can CVS do to help people like your mother? They are reaching out through commercials and the website.What else can be done from your point of view what would you really like to see? I’m compelled to understand. People need to take advantage of the fact that CVS is trying. :)

  11. Maria,

    Reaching out to caregivers is a great idea. Don’t get me wrong. I’m always happy to see these people (men and women) acknowledged.

    What I keep hoping for from CVS is a follow up commercial that actually lists out specific ways they are helping caregivers.

    For example, on their website, they have a “prescriptions delivered to your door free” option. Terrific. Caregivers would love that. It’s a 9 step process on their website. I know my mother would take one look and go – “that looks too complicated”. But she’d love to pick up the phone and have someone enter the information for her. Yet there was no phone number listed near the sign up where she could get help.

    (there is a number buried down at the bottom of the page – if they put that higher up right by the sign up – they’d have a win-win)

    so – I do believe CVS is making some efforts, I just wish they’d be more specific about them.

    It’s unfotunate that there are companies out there who say they “care” and “understand” yet don’t deliver on that promise. So I hope CVS will continue the promotion, but get specific – even share stories of how they helped out specific caregivers – there’s an opportunity here for them to make this campaign real. I hope they do.

  12. I also believe that the CVS announcement incomparably better than countless drug ads.

  13. Holly & others who care,
    I checked out this post because I am a job developer for students with disabilities. I have heard about what Wallgreens is DOING for the community (not just talking about), and so far I have not found anything with CVS on this level!! Not to mention… Wallgreens isn’t blowing the horn too loudly on this project.
    Have a great day

  14. Nichole,
    before you say that Cvs isnt doing anything on Wal green’s level, CVS has a 25 million dollar program for disabled children- The things they do for these kids is unreal……what is wal greens doing? I haven’t done my homework on them and will give them credit where it is do. But I dont think that saying CVS isnt on there level as far as philanthropies go, is fair to say.

    The program is called All kids Can…and what an incredible program it is – and they facilitate in funding programs like the one your in.
    google All Kids Can…you might change your mind.

  15. Maria,
    Thank you for the information. I am always looking for more information about what larger companies are doing for the community. Like I said, I hadn’t found anything from CVS, so I thank you for shedding the light. The information on wallgreens is at
    Thanks again

  16. no problem, let me know what you think :)

  17. Maria,
    Thank you for that information, it was great. Here is my concern. It is easy to care and give to kids with disabilities. They are cute, they don’t know any better, the lists of excuses are a mile long. What I really like to see is people who are willing to help all people with disabilities!! Don’t get me wrong, I am always greatful for those who help out with children… but i am concerned that once these kids turn 18, no one seems to care any more. My job is to help these people find employment. When they are children, we and a society coddle them… a lot. Then when they become adults, we leave them with nothing. Now they are trying to get jobs and be self sufficient and they don’t understand how they went from people wanting to help them to no one wanting to help them.
    Sorry about my little soap box rant, but it is something that I think we should all think about.

  18. Nichole-
    There are many programs that CVS sponsors that facilitate with teens and adults that help them mentally and physically prepare for the world past 18; to enhance their social skills, mobile skills, etc, there are certain programs that CVS funds that helps teens w/ disabilities develop into strong and healthy adults. The point here is, they fund programs to help these children become healthy and strong adults. I understand your passion and believe me, I can relate. Your right we should all think about it. My whole point is that CVS isnt the bad guy because they have a certain cause- Wal greens isnt the good guy for their cause either…its programs that THEY choose to support, we as a society shouldnt leave it to corporations to make a difference on the world and get mad at them when they dont support what we believe in……Look at Wal Mart, they advocate hiring seniors and the disabled. Does it make them look any better? No- we all know they really dont mean it. It’s Wal Mart! They dont mean anything they say.
    Its really up to us as a society- and you know better than me how hard it must be and heartbreaking it must be to see these people who has all the support in the world, have half as much when they turn 18- and Not understand why. I hope that you feel better knowing that what you do on a day to day basis is a lot; one person can go a long way. Stay on that soapbox- it’s worth it :)

  19. I agree Maria, and I admit some times it is hard not to judge. Really I found this blogg when I was looking for employment programs, and I found someone who has made me think. I thank you for that! I would love to hear any programs that anyone finds for employment for persons with disabilities. If I come accross any that I feel this group would like to see, I will pass them along :-)
    Have a wonderful day!

  20. Employment of persons with disabilities is very difficult and lengthy process, especially now during the economic crisis.

  21. Great post and comments, I think CVS was trying to do the right thing. They would have been better spending the money on developing specific programs to help caregivers rather than on advertising how much they care.

  22. Thank you for your post. I applaud anyone who recognizes caregivers and the often overlooked and undervalued work they do. My hope is not to chastise CVS, but to encourage them to truly reach out to these very important individuals. And in fact, a very important point – it is to pay attention to tkie problems of people, thank you for the interesting information.

  23. This is a great post. I also believe that the CVS announcement incomparably better than countless drug ads.

  24. Interesting post, with good information, I think CVS was trying to do the right thing. Thanks for good info.

  25. I think CVS was trying to do the right thing.Very interesting information thanks, but in times of economic crisis, a very difficult situation for vulnerable populations.

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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