Cleverness in advertising stinks: Prevagen

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

17 August 2017

Prevagen gets stupid

Prevagen. The perfect example of brand masturbation.

Prevagen LogoBrands try to speak directly to the emotions of prospective customers. Anything that gets in the way of this plain speak is destructive. To better make that point, we’ll take a look at Prevagen.

First, consider this. The best and most successful brands avoid double entendre and cliché. Why? Because both tricks make the prospect self-conscious. Rather than making prospects celebrate the cleverness of the copywriter, these tricks simply reek of Madison Avenue selling.


“Jellyfish is the least of this brand’s problems. A lack of sophistication and stupid communication tricks will help us all forget this pill. These are as fatal as the idea that it does not work.”

Prevagen doesn’t work

This is not even Prevagen’s biggest issue (Read about the law suit claiming that Prevagen is a hoax here). The biggest issue is a brand team that does not understand that selling is most effective when the target does not see it as SELLING.

Look at the commercial itself.

I have no idea why Jellyfish matters

Prevagen and jellyfishMy hope is that the Prevagen brand managers did this right. But I don’t know why hearing that it came from jellyfish matters a jot. Those of us who swim and scuba dive know that jellyfish are mindless creatures.

They float with the currents and troll long tentacles in hopes of stinging prey. These are not exactly the brain surgeons of the fish kingdom.

Hopefully, the idea of Prevagen’s jellyfish is a quirky means of remembering the ad. It certainly adds no credibility to the product intellectually. Emotionally? I have no clue. Perhaps there is a sub-group of Americans who honor the jellyfish as the god of wisdom, learning and memory.

Prevagen breaks branding rules

Branding rule 1—Be believable not clever.

I get it. The marketers of Prevagen want those of us who need to bolster their memories to remember the brand name. Without awareness, products are HARD to purchase. But double entendre?

Prevagen. The name to remember.

PrevagenHow clever. A copywriter could not help themselves. The double entendre crossed their minds (it is always the first thought) and the client loved it. You get it. The name to remember when you want to remember. This brand belongs on the Stealing Share brand shit list.

This brand devlopment is a shameful example of shoddy sleight of hand. Jellyfish. Cliché. Double entendre. And, disclaimers.

Typical of most pharmaceutical advertising. But pharma is regulated. And some of the crap comes with the territory. Supplements are free to mislead as they please.

Don’t worry about Prevagen

No need to try rebranding Prevagen. It will fail to live up to the high expectations of jellyfish enthusiasts. And we will forget all about it soon enough.


Read about brand naming here

Here is an article on brand repositioning


  1. Mark Meszaros

    I get totally frustrated every time I see their TV commercial. I just can’t figure out how a creature with no brain. Jellyfish do not have a brain. Look it up. Google it.

  2. A.R.

    I couldn’t stand the affected tone of voice in the original TV commercial when the word “jellyfish” was spoken. In the second iteration of the commercial, the same male voice doesn’t use the affected tone when uttering “jellyfish”. Now the commercial uses a woman’s voice and no affected tone.


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