KMart and Sears Fueling Migraine Stigma

Teri Robert @trobert Health Guide
  • If you have Migraines, you know that Migraine carries a great deal of stigma. That stigma increases the burden of living with Migraine, and studies have shown that Migraine incurs more stigma than epilepsy.


    I've written about the stigma associated with Migraine several times, and many people work tirelessly to dispel the myths about Migraines and reduce the stigma. So, one of the last things we need is a broadly run television commercial from a major retailer that adds to the stigma. Right? Right.


    Unfortunately, the creative team that creates KMart's commercials is staffed by... by... well, I can't think of a polite word right now. Over the weekend, a friend pointed out a commercial that KMart has running in major markets right now. Before I go on, take a look at the commercial...

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    She said what?!
    Yes, she said, "I don't really get Migraines." Can you imagine if she had said, "I don't really have heart disease," or "I don't really have MS," or "I don't really have epilepsy?" Using Migraine in this way is no less egregious. Do they not realize the facts below?

    • 18% of American women and 7% of men are afflicted with Migraine disease.
    • Migraine is the third most common disorder on Earth.
    • Migraine is, by far, the most disabling neurological disorder.
    • Up to 15 million Americans are impacted by Migraine on a near-daily basis.

    KMart is owned by Sears, so I called the main number for Sears headquarters yesterday. When I said I wanted to lodge a complaint about a KMart commercial, they routed my call to customer service. After 90 minutes of listening to loud, obnoxious music, I gave up and took the alternative route the recording suggested - I went to their "Contact Us" page and wrote up my complaint. Here's what I said to them:

    On my own behalf and that of millions of other Americans who have Migraine disease, this is to lodge a complaint about your KMart Pharmacy Surprise commercial, which can be seen on YouTube.


    I was surprised, then outraged when the wife said, "I don't really have Migraines." Migraine is a genetic neurological disease that afflicts 18% of women and 7% of men. It's the third most common disorder on earth and the most debilitating neurological disorder. Yet, the stigma is persistent, and that stigma causes us more grief and increases the burden of the disease.


    Would you have had the wife say, "I don't really have heart disease," or, "I don't really have MS?" I think not. That would be insensitive and inappropriate, right? Well, the statement about Migraines is just as inappropriate.


    I'm requesting that you take this commercial off the air and issue a public apology.

    I just received a reply from N. is Sears Customer Care. It says:

    "Thank you for contacting We apologize for any inconvenience or concern caused due to our recent pharmacy commercial.


    We regret that you found the commercial offensive as that was not our intent. We are listening to what you have to say and we appreciate the time you have taken to let us know what you think about the commercial.


    We are always looking for ways in which we can improve. All comments, suggestions, contributions and indeed all feedback from our customers are very important to us.


    Please know that our management team reviews feedback submitted by our customers and that many of the changes and additions have been as a result of feedback from our customers."

    How's that for a non-answer? It was very polite, and maybe it would satisfy some people. To me, however, it's mere pablum and means very little. The next step? I'm going to reply to N. and ask her to put me in touch with someone with more authority to do something about the commercial.


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    A few people have said they don't see why I'm upset about the commercial; that I need to have a sense of humor. I do have a sense of humor, thank you. What those people don't grasp is that the stigma associated with Migraine is so pervasive that the commercial can make it worse. It certainly does nothing to negate the stigma. Just the opposite, in fact. It perpetuates the mythical stereotype of people using their Migraines as an excuse.


    Now, I want to enlist your help. Please take a bit of time to go to and tell them what you think of this commercial. If you're a KMart and / or Sears shopper, let them know that too. This is a call to action! My writing to them will do no good unless other people express their outrage too.


    I'll keep you posted on if and when I get a response from them. If I don't, my next step will be to let them know I'm boycotting them!



    American Migraine Foundation. "36 Million Migraine Campaign Brochure." June, 2013.

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    Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape© Teri Robert, 2013.
    Last updated August 13, 2013.

Published On: August 13, 2013