Despite what you may think, Chevrolet’s “Real People Not Actors” ads are real. The brand has detailed how the process works in the past, and despite some cringe-worthy spots (and spoofs), the ads have been hugely successful for Chevy.
One participant in the entire process recently sat down for an interview with the A.V. Club and detailed how awkward the entire process is. He or she also confirmed no one is an actor.
Speaking anonymously—Chevrolet requires participants to sign a non-disclosure agreement—the participant said they were approached on the street and asked to participate in a “market research” event and said the process would take about two hours. The participant would also earn $200. The participant said:
Well, I was walking down the street, and these two girls approached me. One of them had an iPad and said, “Hi, would you like to participate in paid market research?” That’s something that sounds kind of sketchy, but I’ve done a lot of market research, so I’ve actually experienced this before.
After signing in, the person said it became apparent the entire thing involved Chevrolet when Potsch Boyd showed up and the walls began to open. The person detailed the account in the interview:
Yeah, the walls open and stuff. But it was weird because, once we got in there, he didn’t tell us where to stand or anything. He didn’t point at anything. We just magically got in that line of four people horizontally right in front of him. It was like they had this weird power.
When I was talking to people in the lobby, no one seemed that enthusiastic about anything. The second we got in there, it was like magically everyone was the world’s biggest Chevrolet fan. I can’t stress enough that I’m a real person and not an actor. None of these people were actors, because I asked them what they all did for a living. They suddenly became these perfect spokespeople when this guy started asking questions, like, “What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you think about Chevy?” Literally, the guy next to me was like, “Freedom.” [Laughs.] He was suddenly so patriotic. He was like, “American-made cars. Quality.” All of these people were spewing out these buzzwords.
The person goes on to give their take on why the people featured in the ads may come off as weird, hoaky and uninformed.
I also feel like everyone was… not bending to [Chevy’s] will because they didn’t really influence us to say anything. We never retook a take, but you felt really bad about saying something negative about Chevy because there were 50 cameras on you, and it was just this one guy. He did this magic trick of making it seem like you were hurting his feelings if you said anything bad about Chevy. You didn’t want to see this guy stop smiling. It was really bizarre.
There you have it. The ads are as real as can be, but we now have a better explanation as to why the real people don’t always seem so “real.”