Barker is not a salesman, but he plays one on TV

Paul Clark
Black Mountain News | USA TODAY NETWORK
Dr. Robert Barker and the crew from Säntis Creative Group film in Laurel Ridge development.

Remember those TV commercials in the 1980s that said, “I’m not a doctor, I just play one of TV”?

A local production company turned them on their ear recently to create a commercial for a Black Mountain company that makes an Omega-3 supplement. The film stars a Black Mountain doctor, Robert Barker, whose brother, David Barker (also of Black Mountain), makes the product.

“We wanted to do it in a way that was not your traditional pharmaceutical commercial,” said Jon Brooks, a Black Mountain resident who wrote and codirected the spot. “So we made light of the old commercial from our childhoods where the actor pretend to be a doctor.”

In the spots, now airing on Asheville TV station WLOS News 13, Robert Barker notes that he’s not a salesman but that, with this commercial, he plays one on TV.

The twist on the old Vicks Formula 44 commercial is the work of Brooks and John Northup of Säntis Creative Group, who David Barker hired to promote ALP High-3, an Omega-3 fish oil supplement created by his Black Mountain company, ALP Life Sciences.

During the commercial, a fit-looking Robert Barker talks about ALP High-3, his “favorite preventative supplement,” while hiking and riding a bike at Laurel Ridge in North Fork and fishing for trout in the Swannanoa River by Veterans Park.

“I don’t know if there are any fish in there,” Brooks said while laughing May 8. “We all had on our waders, trying to keep the camera safe as we were backing up in the stream. My legs were freezing.”

Amanda Nichols, pharmacist at Sunshine Pharmacy, appears in the commercial, to say that ALP High-3 has “the highest concentration” of the type of Omega-3s that combat chronic inflammatory disease. Nichols, whose pharmacy is among several locally to carry the product, appears as cool and collected on screen as Robert Barker seems like a fun person to hang out with.

“My wife still feels that Amanda was a paid professional,” Brooks said.

“This is a lifestyle product, so I wanted a setting that feels healthy,” Northrup said of the doctor’s outdoor activities in the commercial. “Every second counts in a TV spot, and so does location. Fortunately, we are surrounded by phenomenal beauty right here in our mountains.”  

The commercial called for a little movie magic. “Dr. Barker’s bike was actually on a trailer pulled by the camera truck,” Northrup said. “Riding a bike and speaking lines is not easy, so we gave him a little help.”

“The amazing thing is how Robert pulled it off,” David Barker said. The commercial “turned our doctor into a movie star,” he said.