What Do These Real People Think of Ads Starring Real People? | Adweek What Do These Real People Think of Ads Starring Real People? | Adweek
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What Do These Real People Think of Ads Starring Real People?

'Adweek' put three marketing campaigns to the test
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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.

Reactions ¬
(view full photo gallery)

Luis, 54
Engineer

Q: Did the chef come off as an actual Red Lobster chef?


A: I don’t know—I think he came off as more of an actor.

Kelsie Marie, 17
Student

Q: Would you watch this commercial?


A: Probably not. I’d probably change the channel.

Nicholas, 24
Clerk

Q: Would you go to Red Lobster after seeing this ad?


A: Of course. Yeah. Shrimp and biscuits!

Christopher, 37
Interior Designer

Q: Would you watch this ad if it came on during your favorite show?


A: I’d probably tune it out and play on my iPad.



Ford An actual customer seemed stunned to find himself before a gaggle of reporters, who grilled him about features like fuel efficiency.

Reactions ¬

John, 39
Fashion Designer

Q: Can you tell us what that commercial was about?


A: I don’t know—some d-bag trying to buy a car.

Kai, 29
Engineer

Q: What do you think the advertiser was trying to communicate?


A: That even cheap people can also buy a Ford.

Cory, 30
Teacher

Q: Did you believe the person in the ad was not an actor?


A: I don’t know. Everything is scripted, even reality TV. That’s why I don’t really watch TV anymore.

Robert, 53
Artist

Q: WWhat did you think of the person in the ad?


A: He was all right, but he wouldn’t convince me to buy a car. I thought he was an actor.

 



Febreze Ordinary people were pulled off streets, blindfolded, then asked to describe the scent of a filthy room treated with the fabric freshener.

Reactions ¬

Jamie, 26
Fabric Sourcer

Q: Do you think the person was actually pulled off the street and not an actor?


A: I have trouble believing she was a real person.

Glenn, 40
Self-Employed

Q: If this ad came on, would you watch or change the channel?


A: I’ve watched it before and I’ll watch it again.

Alisha, 39
PR Exec

Q: What did you think about this ad?


A: I actually get a kick out of these ads. I think they are fun.

Esther, 48
Guidance Counselor

Q: Did you believe that these were real people pulled off the street?


A: Well, they look less Hollywood. In other words, they were more believable and more identifiable with a normal citizen.



More in-depth analysis: Get Real, by Lucia Moses
Full screen gallery of these portraits can be found here.
All Photos by Elizabeth Lippman.