Brands have been rethinking their use of costly celebrity endorsements in light of the soft economy and stars' overexposure and embarrassing slip-ups. At the same time, we're seeing companies like Red Lobster and Ford turn to ordinary people to promote their products. In the age of user-generated content and transparency, real people just make the brand seem more genuine and authentic, the thinking goes. But if people have a hard time believing celebrities use the products they endorse, do they necessarily buy the real-people sale? Adweek took to the streets to find out what everyday people think of the non-actor, non-celebrity pitchman.
Red Lobster The seafood chain had actual chefs ("grill masters") from its restaurants extol the virtues of their cooking styles and fresh ingredients.
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Q: Did the chef come off as an actual Red Lobster chef?
Kelsie Marie, 17
Q: Would you watch this commercial?
Q: Would you go to Red Lobster after seeing this ad?
Q: Would you watch this ad if it came on during your favorite show?
Ford An actual customer seemed stunned to find himself before a gaggle of reporters, who grilled him about features like fuel efficiency.
Q: Can you tell us what that commercial was about?
Q: What do you think the advertiser was trying to communicate?
Q: Did you believe the person in the ad was not an actor?
Q: WWhat did you think of the person in the ad?
Febreze Ordinary people were pulled off streets, blindfolded, then asked to describe the scent of a filthy room treated with the fabric freshener.
Q: Do you think the person was actually pulled off the street and not an actor?
Q: If this ad came on, would you watch or change the channel?
Q: What did you think about this ad?
Q: Did you believe that these were real people pulled off the street?