faking reality

If ads from The Content Project for reality programming on The Leaning Channel seem a bit more polished than the actual shows, there’s a good reason.

The shows, called A Baby Story, A Dating Story and A Wedding Story, use a “he said, she said” approach, with real couples separately discussing their relationship. Trouble is, real people tend not to be so polished in advertising. So TCP executive creative director Steve Kazanjian wrote a script and hired some smooth-talking, good-looking actors.

“To some extent it may seem perverse to simulate reality to sell a reality show,” admitted Kazanjian, who noted that his Santa Monica, Calif., shop handled creative and production for the spots. But the decision to use paid talent, he said, was hardly a shortcut. Rather than edit down actual interviews, he had to invent dialog between two people.

“We had to do a lot of rehearsing, and I had to give each [actor] the back story,” said Kazanjian. “But what we’re actually selling is a warm emotion. People don’t watch these shows to see a train wreck. In that regard, the ads are true to the shows.”