Reality Check: Top 10 Real People Casting Tips

Feb 14, 2018

Web Master



Real people bring undeniable authenticity to advertising campaigns. Brands are able to connect to their audiences with inspiring and relatable stories and content. It’s no wonder that the trend has continually grown in advertising, to the point consumers have turned into your best marketers!
Knowing how to approach the process with your professional real people casting team is key. Here are my top ten tips:

1. Understand that real people live real lives

Jobs, family, travel – sounds like a wonderful life indeed. Real people have busy lives and run on a different schedule than our commercial productions. That’s why our first tip is to allot enough time for your recruit. Depending on your specs, the process could take two to four weeks to accommodate the busy schedules of real people living real lives. Consult with your expert real people casting team before setting your timeline.

2. Begin with the end in mind

The Digital Universe is still a vast and uncharted galaxy. Your creative team and brand must be aligned on how your casting team approaches communication with real people recruits. Outreach materials should be reviewed and approved by all key decision-makers. Pro Tip: Make sure to set aside additional time prior to casting so that the approval process does not affect your overall timeline. Our tip number two is to know where you are going so you know how to get there.

3. Follow the rules or pay the price

The Federal Trade Commission requires that advertisers follow guidelines when using testimonials for content. It’s therefore up to you and your legal department to interpret and follow the guidelines that apply to your unique projects. Together, assess any potential risks to set best practices for your marketing concepts and casting approaches. Our third tip is to avoid problems in post-production by making sure you check with your legal department before starting to recruit or cast.
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Pro Tip: If you are shooting a testimonial spot for Broadcast, chances are you will have to conduct market research. (Not doing market research? Expect to add a super to your spot, such as “Real People paid for Real Opinions.”) Conducting MR by using a transparent casting company is unwise since it gives away the true purpose of the recruit. Because of this, ask your real people casting team if they have a Market Research arm to keep the testimony untainted.

4. Don’t be penny-wise and real people foolish

There’s no shortcut to finding real people. A strategic, creative, and nimble mind is necessary to come up with multiple approaches to ensure comprehensive results. Unique specifications often require creative in-depth research methods. The trick is to tap into the right circles; the tight-knit communities that have strong communication networks to help substantiate and circulate our outreach requests. Our fourth tip is to remember that Real People Casting is not linear, but rather circular and communal.

5. Bu!!$h1t Meters are necessary

Fake news has taken over the headlines!  Lying has become the status quo.  In Real People Casting, that is a problem.   People can be like pretzels and contort to tell you what you want to hear.  GENUINE has discovered ways to make sure people are telling the truth!
The fifth tip is to give people a variety of choices so that you can determine if they are telling the truth. If you do need to strictly follow the FTC guidelines, you will have to conduct Market Research and pay an honorarium to get unbiased opinions for legal substantiation. Crisis averted!

6. Don’t forget that the truth is the easiest thing to remember

Our sixth tip is to stay open-minded when approaching new projects as the truth can sometimes be more interesting than your initial concepts. Research may reveal reality is different than what you expected, providing you with new ideas and insights for you to consider.

7. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Pay real people real money

Yes, real people need to be paid! Our seventh tip is to remember that it’s important to pay your real people a fair rate so that they do not feel taken advantage of at any point during production or once it airs.

8. Take my hand

Keep in mind that they are likely not familiar with standard production terms and practices (call times, wardrobe, what to expect on set, etc.) Talk them through the process in layman’s language so they know what to expect and what is expected of them. Tip number eight is to exercise patience and offer guidance so that everyone has a good experience

9. Let’s get digital

Use technology to keep track of real people and all the research that has been done for future marketing initiatives. We encounter and meet so many amazing people in our real people casting process. Many may not be ideal for the concept at hand but may be wonderful for creating content or new marketing initiatives down the road. Perhaps their stories will glean new insights or inspire ideas for your team. Tip number nine is to  continue the relationship with real people online by utilizing programs like GENUINE’s RealPeopleBook.

10. Give love to get love

Finally, tip number ten is to treat your real people as you would a close friend or loved one. Remember that your talent may feel vulnerable sharing their personal experience and who they truly are on a public stage. This can be more challenging than playing a part. Practicing kindness and establishing trust is essential.
Find out more about Jill Strickman and GENUINE: The Real People Company at
GENUINE: The Real People Company finds real people for major brands who are featured in everything from Super Bowl ads, to nuanced testimonials, to viral content viewed by millions. Our new platform, GENUINE: RealPeopleBook, optimizes cost, time and management efficiencies for real people casting to meet modern campaign needs.


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