Ad Track: Networks find ads for fall shows a tough sell

"We are looking at it differently this year," says Seth Kaufman, director of media strategy, PepsiCo North America Beverages. "We educate them on our business and our goals, and they come back with programming that makes sense.

"As media proliferation happens and consumers multitask on computers and TV, we want to connect with consumers in relevant ways across platforms. In the past, we would bludgeon consumers over the head, and they would change behavior. That's not true anymore today. You have to create deeper connections."

Price has been a concern this year, says Kaufman, but premiums are not out of the question for the right content.

"It's important to find value and efficiencies but not in direct conflict with achieving business objectives. It is a careful balance. We're not going to overpay and buy things at a premium if it doesn't make sense. And we're not going to try to get 30-second spots really, really cheap."


Q: I was curious if recent ads that claim "real people — not actors" are truthful? I notice Pizza Hut has a current ad where they make such a claim. Are these commercials just gimmicks and these people are actually actors?

— Sam Eichner, Cave Creek, Ariz.

A: The Pizza Hut pizza lovers are real. The only actors are the waiters, waitresses and chefs who are in on the setup. The folks who claim to love the food are real, shot with a hidden camera. Reality TV has helped fuel the trend and real folks can give the ad more authenticity and credibility.

Pizza Hut has created about 12 ads using the hidden-camera technique to promote its new Tuscani Pastas, spokesman Chris Fuller says. The ads, by BBDO in the U.S., use a faux restaurant — an empty storefront dressed up by admakers to look like a real restaurant and equipped with hidden microphones and video cameras. After the ruse is revealed, the real people had to sign waivers to be in the ads.

The latest ad shows real people in Rome giving a thumbs up to a new lasagna. "It features real Italians approving of the lasagna, which seems unbelievable, but it's all true," Fuller says.

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