Ad of the Day: Chevy Frightens and Amuses Real People in Great Focus-Group Ads

Zombies, killer clowns, puppies and more

Even the best prank ads can sometimes leave you wondering: Were those real people or actors?

That isn't a problem in Chevrolet's entertaining new campaign, which includes what so many other prank campaigns with real people bafflingly omit—big, blaring on-screen text confirming these are indeed "Real people. Not actors." And these particular real people are in for the some of the more surprising and amusing—and in the end, enlightening—focus-group experiences ever.

Seven videos feature a wide range of ordinary, unsuspecting people who get lightly punked by the focus-group leader, a likable guy who takes things just so far—then reveals the point of his shenanigans. The ads feature zombies, a killer clown, firemen, puppies, a session with painfully personal questions and many other conceits—all to promote some aspect of Chevy's various models.

Four videos feature only adults, and are the best of the bunch. Three others include kids, and are less successful. One feels actually mean (moms are asked to pick one child to ride in a  safe car, and one to ride in a less-safe car), and two others are about using on-board wifi to keep kids quiet with iPads (a topic that always brings its own baggage—or maybe I'm just bitter because my kids get car sick with the iPad).

Overall, though, it's a very fun campaign that manages to breathe new life into the tired old focus-group parody approach, and the prank genre as well.

Combined with Chevy's #BestDayEver YouTube stunt on April Fools' Day, it seems the automaker is generating real momentum—good timing with the positive buzz around the new Malibu, introduced last week.


Client: Chevrolet

Agency: Commonwealth/McCann