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!!"
4/28/2013 01:17:17 pm
I made the exact same observations and instantly googled. Glad to see there are other folks out there with half a brain. I guess I just hate being lied to. The whole thing is completely implausible and it's annoying that the Vitamin Water advertising and marketing folks are lying to the public...simply deception.
4/28/2013 03:03:26 pm
Thanks for your note. Again, to be clear, I don't mind that the ad used actors to portray supposedly-real people. I get that. What bothered me is that they went out of their way to intentional say that these are "[real passengers]". And that was, as you say, a case that I just hate being lied to. Play by the rules of the game, don't take me for a total sap.
6/3/2013 10:31:52 am
When I saw the commercial I instantly googled and came here. Traveling a lot for work myself, I could only think how frustrated *somebody* would be. Hadn't even noticed the narrow ages. Anyway, there was clearly a disconnect in what I knew was real and what the commercial was selling. I'm about to go post a joke on FB about it (with video link) though, so I guess Vitamin Water wins this round.
6/3/2013 11:32:36 am
The company has a new ad I saw saw a couple days ago. This one has "real people" in a waiting room. I clicked off, so I don't know what happens, but I suspect they'll all be really excited to get water. The entire waiting room was full, and they were all about the same age, and looking oh-so-board. It's good to know that the ad agency hires "real people" for their ads, as opposed to all those fake ones. I suspect these "real people" might be the ones who live in Sarah Palin's "real America."
6/7/2013 02:43:45 pm
Yeah, this is a type of commercial that really grates. Like those commercials a few years back with "real people" at fancy restaurants that raved about their food only to "discover" that it was prepared by Pizza Hut, and then reacted orgasmically. The Vitamin Water one is worse because nobody not totally gullible who's ever been on an airplane can possibly think that at least 1 person (but more than likely every passenger) wouldn't be immensely frightened and/or annoyed by the lights going down on their delayed flight which then becomes a club. But who in the hell is going to be overjoyed when they've gone too an expensive restaurant and are then told that, no, they haven't gotten the food they were expecting, they got Pizza Hut instead? Are these "real people" commercials actually considered effective?
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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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