It’s hilarious, engaging and timely. But is it real?
Hidden camera. High-production guerilla marketing. Celebrity advertising. Whatever you want to call the approach. Lots of companies have opted for candid-camera campaigns in the past year. What’s the common denominator? They invoke favourable feelings towards the brand and make you say ‘wow, I wish I had been intercepted my THAT company while I went about my daily business’. But is anyone really being intercepted?
Take a look at two of the spots below and see for yourself:
Exhibit A: Hung-Over, Eh?
Really? Is that how you would react to someone refusing you service while you’re hung over? I’d have a few choice ones for this supposed jackass, and I certainly wouldn’t drop to show complete strangers my yoga poses (wait, wasn’t she hung over?) 100 seconds after meeting them… This is definitely the worst of the lot because you don’t even get the satisfaction of watching this supposedly real person realizing she’s face to face with the MVP of the NFL. So what was the point?
Exhibit B: Real Life Ain’t That Witty
This was actually my favourite of the lot, purely for the final five seconds. But let’s take a look at how genuine it is or isn’t. Firstly, how convenient was that phone call? Real people aren’t considerate enough to hang up before approaching the counter. Also, his witty retort at 0:34 came across as a line better suited for an episode of The Office than the gas station. Finally, I’m as big a sports fan as the next guy, but to show off a player’s signature move instinctively upon meeting him? Probably something I tell my friends at the bar I did hours later rather than my actual behaviour. Makes for a great spot though.
But maybe you believe it, maybe that looks genuine to you. It’s entirely possible. For comparison, let’s take a look at a recent campaign that also relied on hidden cameras but whose authenticity is much harder to doubt:
TD Canada Trust – #TDThanksYou
Why is this one harder to doubt? By contrast, the voice in the Automatic Thanking Machine actually plays off of what the customers are saying. In other words, it doesn’t sound as scripted as the Gatorade spots with Manning regurgitating the same 4 lines. Also, emotion. Surely the two campaigns evoke very different feelings in the subjects of the video and the viewers, but the feeling is palpable in the latter example. These are real people, genuinely moved to tears, laughter, excitement, happiness by what they’re saying. And what about Gatorade? What emotions did we see when they were denied a perfectly normal transaction and then come face to face with a celebrity. Were they furious? Were they in awe? Well, most of the time there was no reaction at all (so maybe cast better actors next time).
Though I had a ton of fun speculating, I wanted a definitive answer straight from the horse’s mouth, so I reached out to TBWA\Chiat\Day, the agency behind the Gatorade campaign:
@TBWA Hey guys! Love the Gatorade campaign with Cam Newton, Peyton Manning. Just wondering, were the customers actors or unsuspecting ppl?
— Adam Rodricks (@adamrodricks) August 19, 2014
You’ll notice they clearly read the tweet since they cared enough to ‘favourite’ it. But I’m still waiting on a response…
So what do you think? Was this series of ‘hidden camera’ spots really targeting unsuspecting patrons or were the most clueless people in each spot Cam and Peyton? Does it even matter if it’s real because it gets the point across and inspires chatter like this?