Yesterday, I received a comment from a reader here named Danny, about an earlier posting I'd made. It had concerned that water company who has a TV ad where supposedly a planeload of people supposedly waiting for a delayed flight are supposedly "really" surprised when a troupe of dancers come in with water. I had noted that no however many times the word "real" was flashed on the screen, it was flimflammery. Anyway, in part, Danny wrote --
"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?"
I have to assume that, yes, they're effective, or else they'd have stopped long ago. But I should add that there are probably a lot more of these than people think. For instance, you know those ads where they catch people coming out of a movie screening to get their reaction -- and there are always two or three girls together who cry out, "We loved it!!!!" Those are fake. I know this because...well, I've written one.
Several years back, I was hired by an ad agency to write the script for an ad where people were telling the camera, randomly, as if they'd just been asked for their candid opinion of a movie. Really, I asked? They're not going to get real reactions? Not any? Oh, no, I was told, we script the whole thing. Even the "We loved it!!!"?? Oh, sure, even that.
Okay, fine, a job is a job. So, I wrote the script. Word-for-door, real people, randomly and candidly expressed what they honestly thought, according to the exact words in the script that had been approved which they'd been auditioned for and hired to say. Hey, actors are real people. (Though as Max Bialystock says in The Producers, "They are?? Have you ever eaten with one?!!") And the words were real. Even the thoughts expressed were real - they just weren't the thoughts of the real people expressing them, merely the real person paid to have them. All that was missing was perhaps Vitamin Water.
Since then, I've tended to be a bit for skeptical about "real people" ads. For some reason...
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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