OOPS: Comcast Features Reality Star in "Real People" Commercial
Consumer World Original
(Boston - August 8, 2017) - When a TV commercial proclaims that customers shown in an ad are "real people, not actors," the advertiser better double-check their credentials. That's the lesson that Comcast learned last week when Consumer World informed the company that the key man in one of their "real people" TV ads had previously been featured in two different reality television series.
Despite the revelation, Comcast decided to continue airing the ad which is set to end its run this week.
The particular advertisement is part of a series of Comcast ads depicting potential customers hearing the benefits of Comcast Xfinity services and reacting very positively. In the commercial, the man hearing the Comcast spiel says "wow" while the words "Real people. Not actors" appears on the screen. At the end of the ad he says "I'll sign up right now, no joke."
Here is the commercial:
The man in question, Robert Holcomb, is certainly no stranger, however, to reality TV viewers. He was featured last year in A&E's weekly series "60 Days In" where several undercover volunteers were embedded among prisoners in an Indiana jail for two months to report on any problems discovered. Previously, Holcomb was profiled on the TLC series "Extreme Time Cheaters."
"Characters on a reality TV series no longer represent the everyday man-on-the-street -- they become celebrities in the minds of viewers and are accustomed to performing in front of live cameras," commented Consumer World founder Edgar Dworsky. "I'm disappointed that Comcast has decided to continue running the ad knowing full well now of its dubious nature."
A Comcast spokesperson indicated that the company had no idea that Holcomb had been in a TV series before, pointing out that he had signed an affidavit stating that he was not a "professional actor." Holcomb claimed that he was a teacher, but admits in an unrelated YouTube video to having had an acting coach in the past.
According to Dworsky, the participants in Comcast's ad knew they were being filmed (as Comcast discloses in fine print) and they were compensated for participating in a pre-screening process (which Comcast does not disclose in the ad). All that can influence the opinions they express on camera, he said.
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