If one were to take a step back and look at the big picture when it comes to this ad, sharks seem rather harmless, given that the product being advertised is an aid to help people stop smoking. Consider this, adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. The average number of fatal shark attacks for the entire world is around 5-10, depending on whose statistics you look at. So, maybe the guy in the commercial really does have bigger problems to worry about than the great white shark latched on to his arm.
David at SouthernFriedScience.com is critical of the ad due to its negative portrayal of white sharks and notes that it only reinforces the false notion that white sharks are just out there waiting to attack people. Personally, while I can see where David is coming from on some level, I think the ad is relatively harmless and fairly amusing. The shark could have easily been replaced with a dog or just about any other animal with a mouth on it and still have had the same effect. Granted, media featuring sharks tends to focus more on biting, but in the case of this commercial, the over-the-top portrayal and comical nature of the ad make me think that the ad wouldn’t evoke a sense of realism or fear into the minds of the viewers that would result swaying their opinions about sharks one way or another. At the end of the day, I think certain “educational” programs (*cough* Discovery Channel *cough*) are far more culpable for promoting negative stereotypes of sharks than a silly Nicorette commercial.
By the way, the special effects on the great white shark in this commercial beat anything I’ve seen on the big screen, to date. Kudos to the FX guys who did the cg work on this advertisement.