There is a TV commercial running now for the product, Vitamin Water. Okay, yes, I know that this is just a commercial, but I've written TV ads, so I occasionally watch them with a closer eye than would otherwise be rational.
Anyway, this one features a plane load of passengers, looking bored because of delays and then annoyed when told that there will be yet another delay and the lights go out -- and then really, really excited when the lights go back on, the plane becomes like a disco, and a hip-hop artist comes on board singing, and the passengers all go crazy wild, just like Vitamin Water will do for your own boredom.
It's all done very documentary, hidden-camera style, and there's even the note on the screen where we're told these are "[real passengers]"! Cool. So their reaction is really real, and that's why you should think Vitamin Water is so great. The thing is, There isn't a passenger on that plane who isn't older than 25 or younger than 23. So, unless this is a charter flight from the University of Colorado on Spring Break, these passengers are as real as Rep. Don Young's (R-AL) apology for slurring Mexican-Americans.
Now, to be clear, I hold no false illusions about TV ads purporting to who Real People that aren't. Even those ads with people coming out of a movie or play telling the camera how much they loved it. Believe it or not, those are scripted and use actors. (I know this because, among other things, I've been hired to write them. Including writing the obligatory couple hugging each other and crying out, "We Loved It!!!" I also was hired to write a parody ad of these kinds of ads. And yes, that, too, had the obligatory couple...)
My quibble isn't that these aren't Real People in the Vitamin Water ad purporting to be Real People. I get that. While they want you to think they're real, they never say it's real. What bothers me is that Vitamin Water took the next step and actually tell you that these are "[real passengers]." That's being intentionally deceptive.
I'm sure that the company covered its rear end in some way against the FTC (because there are rules against such things). They probably hired the actors and told them they were taking them on a short flight as part of the job, making them officially " [real passengers]." Whether they also told them beforehand what the ad was or not, who knows? Whether the airplane rolled 10 feet, making the "[real passengers]" even more "real," who knows? All I know is that that's not like any collection of "[real passengers]" who've been on any airplane I've ever been on. Nor did they act like any collection of "[real passengers]" who've been on any plane I've been on, dancing in the aisles because a hip-hop artist came on board.
If there had been two long delays on any plane I'd been on, and then Bruce Springsteen came dancing on-board, a third of the passengers would start screaming at him, "Sit down so the damn plane can take off already, and I can get to my business meeting, you already delayed us 45 minutes, and my kid has been crying for the past half hour!!! Where is the flight attendant??! I want a free drink for this inconvenience!!"
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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