A new TV ad for George Washington hospital invokes the dramatic shooting of President Ronald Reagan, who was whisked to GW after being hit by a would-be assassin’s bullet, as well as his triumphant recovery.
But some of the footage used in the spot is a bit out of context, depicting Reagan’s rehabilitation at the then-Bethesda Naval Medical Center, not GW — and from a visit some four years after the shooting.
Here’s how it goes:
In the new ad, a voice worthy of an action-movie trailer intones: “In one of the world’s most powerful cities, one hospital stands strong: The George Washington University Hospital.”
The visual is that of a strikingly lit night shot of GW.
The ad then cuts to a clip of the chaotic aftermath of the 1981 Reagan shooting, followed quickly by a shot of Nancy and Ronald Reagan waving from a hospital window. Reagan, clad in what appears to be a bathrobe, flashes an okay sign with his hand, apparently to reassure those gathered to watch that he was on the mend.
“These moments define us,” the dramatic voice concludes.
But as an astute Loop fan points out, that image of the smiling Reagans was filmed not at GW but at the naval hospital. And it wasn’t taken in the aftermath of the shooting, but rather after the Gipper’s successful treatment for colon cancer in 1985.
It’s perfectly legitimate for GW to take credit for saving the 40th president, of course, but the images used to tell the story aren’t chronologically (or geographically) precise.
In a statement, GW explains that it bought the footage from a company that sells stock footage, and that it was incorrectly labeled “President Ronald Reagan and wife, Nancy, wave from hospital windows shortly after the 1981 assassination attempt.”
But now that they’ve learned of the error, they’ll be swapping the shot out for something more true-to-life.
“Creatively the video provides closure to the assassination attempt showing a happy resolution with President Reagan and his wife Nancy,” said Laura Riddle, a producer at Contrast Creative, the firm that created the ad. “We will be replacing this video with a more historically accurate shot.”