Merck Exec Quits After YouTube Gross-Out Video Got Too Much Negative Attention

Last Updated May 23, 2009 6:21 PM EDT

Kevin Nalty, Merck's consumer product director for Propecia, quit his job last week. The move came after it emerged that he was "Nalts," the creator of a YouTube video titled "Farting in Public" that has earned more than 7.4 million views on YouTube. Nalty said on his blog that he now intends to go into social media consulting full time.

The move demonstrates one of two things: a) drug companies don't have a sense of humor and still don't understand the role of online video in people's private lives, or b) drug companies remain vigilant about protecting their brands from "off-brand" employees.

Nalty -- who even turned his vacation into a video -- told NewTeeVee:
"Merck knew about Nalts before they hired me. But as Nalts grew, it became harder to keep 'low profile.' I went to great lengths to keep them separate because I didn't want my goofball antics to reflect poorly on a company focused on health and medication ... The fact that Merck was recently being unfairly linked to me and fart videos was the 'straw that broke the camel's back.'"
Nalty was first connected to the "Nalts" character in an offhand reference in a Mediaweek story about product placement on YouTube. BNET unburied that lede here, and noted that "it's surprising Merck hasn't sent him a stiffly worded HR memo." On May 21, Nalty uploaded a video talking about his decision to quit. It features him tearing off his shirt to reveal "Do what you love" written on his chest, as he sings "Treated Me Kind" by Mariah Carey.

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