Just when you thought advertising couldn’t sink any lower than suspicious packaging intended to push a cartoon of animated junk food items, companies like McDonald’s have now turned to the realm of corporate sponsorship. They were already there in many forms, but this is a new one: hidden cameras in classrooms intended to catch students’ true reaction to a new coffee product. If it were me paying $40,000 or more per year at this private university, be it during an advertising class or philosophy class, I might be just a little rattled at the idea of being taped and then pressured to sign a release to allow the images to be used on TV. Sadly, these advertising students were all too willing and eager to sign the release for what amounted to $10 worth of crappy music, excited that they had a fun story to tell their other classmates:
The commercial was filmed last month in a lecture hall at BU. Crews from Redtree Productions, the company that Arnold worked with on the ad, fitted three hidden cameras and built a set inside the classroom. Behind the guest speaker, workers added a chalkboard that turned out to be a one-way mirror that filmed the students head-on to capture their real reactions. Another camera was placed behind the class as they listened to guest lecturer Robert Deutsch. He purposely rambled to make students tired, officials said.
In the commercial, the students appear tired, dazed, and yawning until a crush of chipper uniformed McDonald’s workers, some actors and some real employees, swarmed into the lecture hall. They served everyone cups of iced and hot coffees. On camera, the students perked up and sipped their drinks.
After the commercial was taped, students featured in the ad signed a release so that their images could be used. For their participation, the students were each given a $10 gift card for Apple iTunes. Typically, a union actor featured as a principal in such an ad could earn $592 a day while an extra can get $323, according to Boston Casting Inc.
This is a bit baffling on many levels, so let’s deconstruct:
- Students in an advertising class are bored with the material, even though their parents are paying about what a BMW 3-series costs in total, per year, for them to go.
- In ironic hipster fashion, McDonald’s comes barging in and shoves sugary, watery coffee drinks down the throats of these bored students.
- Students react with glee as a new, shining product in the form of coffee in syrofoam cups (what a novel idea) pumps caffeine into their bloodstream and wakes them up from the inevitable coma of not having enough flashing lights and dancing figures in front of their eyes.
McDonald’s will undoubtedly spin this as, “look at the positive reaction we got from students drinking our coffee!” What everyone knows, or should know, however, is that free food and beverages are always a welcome distraction from pretending to be a good listener in a lecture hall for far too many students (and professionals…and just about anyone these days). This series of events should be a lesson in how easily people crammed into a lecture hall to listen to a moron go on about product advertising are swayed by a distraction – any distraction, especially one that will fill their bellies and leave them with something pleasant to think about as they daydream their way through the rest of the lecture.
For the video, click here