Despite being aware that almost everybody is annoyed by Chevrolet’s “Real People” series of advertisements, the automaker isn’t planning to stop anytime soon. Finally, one of the “real people” has spoken about what the experience is like, and it’s just as cringe-worthy and hilarious as you’d imagine.
We’ve taken issue with these ads time and time again, but if you’ve so far been spared the misery of seeing people mistake a Chevy Malibu for a BMW or Audi, or gasp at how many meaningless awards Chevy flaunts for, like, first-90-days new car quality, then go ahead and check one out:
Ah! If you’ve ever wondered if the people fawning over doors opening to reveal a Chevy Cruze are actually real people, the A.V. Club claims to have snagged an interview with one.
Due to the non-disclosure agreement Chevy forced the interviewee to sign, they spoke to the A.V. Club on a condition of anonymity. The overall message is that these “Real People” ads are just two hours of crushing awkwardness and tricky mind games, where Chevy’s production crew recruits people off of the street for “market research”. From the interview:
How did you end up in a Chevy commercial?
Anonymous: 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.
The person was offered $200 and told to come to the Los Angeles Convention Center, and that the “market research” would take about two hours. There was no indication this would be to film a Chevy advertisement, or that it had anything to do with the automaker at all.
Upon arrival, that’s when something began to feel off. The convention center was empty except for two people sitting at a table in the middle of a huge room. After signing in, Anonymous sat and waited with other recruits, where they realized that everyone in the group was seemingly just another normal person.
Eventually the group was ushered into another room, where it finally became apparent that this was one of Chevy’s stunt ads, spokesperson Potsch Boyd included:
Anonymous: 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 group was then asked questions like do they own a Chevy (none of them did) and do they know what a J.D. Power award is (which none of them really knew). Then the walls began moving, revealing more cars as seen in the ads:
Then the best part happened, which is that the spokesman went, “What if I told you last year we won more awards than the other car brands?” When that wall opened, it was the loudest, most awkward and slow-moving thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. It just sounded like loud mechanical noise. You could hear the camera panning slowly in front of us or behind us and this guy just stood there through the awkward silence and smiled at us, completely unfazed.
And then Anonymous gets to the reason why these “real people” act so dang weird in these ads:
There are parody videos that have been getting popular making fun of these people who are supposedly real people, but 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.
I guess it all makes sense now! The person A.V. Club interviewed was convinced that none of the people seemed like actors or Chevy sleeper cells, just normal people under the pressure of earning their $200 bucks and being watched by a crew of 50 people with cameras.
Sure, it’s crushingly awkward and slightly misleading as an ad campaign but, at the end of two hours of not doing much, you get to walk away with a couple Benjamins and a NDA that could seemingly make you disappear for speaking out.
Check out the full interview over on the A.V. Club, as every single detail is absolutely hilarious and worth knowing. Maybe I won’t hate seeing these ads so much anymore knowing the personal torment each individual on screen is silently suffering.