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Most Embarrassing Products: Preparation H


Caught with Prep H in your cart? Say it's for your skin.

Seeking treatment for varicose veins in the legs certainly isn't a pleasant experience but it's not the laughing matter that is the case when the bulging veins occur in the rectum. Hemorrhoids, those painful, swollen veins that develop small blood clots or may cause minor bleeding, are cause for endless hilarity because of their undignified position in the lower portion of the anus. Until the advent of the online marketplace, hemorrhoid sufferers were reduced to wearing paper bags over their heads in drugstores to avoid the humiliation associated with the purchase of their Preparation H hemorrhoid ointments, suppositories, and wipes.

Preparation H is an out-and-out riot. After all, Austin Powers, one of the most successful comedy franchises in cinematic history, made the product the focal point of a prominent gag. An earnest Dr. Evil unveiling his tractor beam says, "Preparations A through G were a complete failure. But now, ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a working tractor beam, which we shall call... Preparation H." His son, Scott cracks, "Why don't you just call it operation ass-cream, you ass." And before the scene is over, we are treated to "...on the whole Preparation H feels good" and "Preparation H does feel good... on the hole." Oh, what made them stop at three films?

Marketing a treatment for anal itching, aching, bleeding, and hard, tender lumps isn't the sexiest task for a public relations firm. Even Mad Men's dapper Don Draper would be hard pressed to pitch the 1960's Preparation H slogan "Effective even in cases of long standing" to company executives in a dignified manner. Though today's society may have shed that kind of prudishness, if Austin Powers and the torrent of Preparation H parodies still being posted on YouTube are any indication, it hasn't proven less juvenile.

Over the years, marketing for Preparation H, made by Pfizer (PFE), has taken an 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' tack, opting to poke a little fun at the sore subject. Its registered trademark "I Should Have Used Preparation H," has been used to lighthearted effect, usually uttered by a hapless schlub.

An old Los Angeles radio ad humorously presented a nightmarish scenario for a hemorrhoid sufferer: "A moonlight carriage ride down a cobblestone road. But you are twitching from the itching. Squirming from the burning. And with every bump, the pain drives you insane!" One French commercial playfully addressed the simple but painful act of sitting on a wooden chair, making it the subject of a horror movie scene, In another ad, a stool is the focus of a Mariachi singer's repetitive "Aye aye aye." More recent commercials underscore the toils of the common bike ride; one ad shows a father taking his kids out on a pothole-riddled road, another features a woman's bicycle seat enmeshed in barbed wire

If the goofy ads still don't ease the embarrassment factor, hemorrhoid sufferers caught red-handed with Preparation H can always claim other uses for the product. Years ago the hemorrhoid cream was allegedly a Hollywood starlet beauty secret to smooth out wrinkles and lift baggy eyes. While the live yeast cell derivative (LYCD) responsible for wrinkle reduction has been removed from the present formula of Preparation H, many women continue to swear by it. And if that excuse doesn't work for men, they can also justify their use of hemorrhoid cream for the sake of vanity with the bizarre nightclub circuit trend of lubing up their torsos to give a more toned appearance.

"The way you use it is to take your shirt off and rub it all over yourself before you go to the club," a club goer told ABC News. "If you want to get [lucky], you have to know how to dance, and if you want girls to dance with you, you have to look ripped."

And so it appears that in certain cases, Preparation H doesn't repel members of the opposite sex, it attracts them.

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