You've seen the headlines, in fact the whole world probably has. Everyone has written about it from The Guardian, the NSA-whistleblowing journalistic titan, to Huffington-post, the New York Post scraper.
But as we all know in advertising, those "man on the street" people are always vetted, nay cast, before they play their part in the "spontanious" real life with lots of hidden cameras stunt. Verdens Gang credits advertising guru Kjetil Try with the idea. Try explains that the passengers are cast/screened/hired before to ensure - of course - a good span of different ages, genders and social groups. That explains all the black people. The passengers were asked if they wanted to be in a film for Arbeiderpartiet, and told that they would be picked up in a taxi.
Anyway, VG's journalist who doesn't understand this whole advertising thing wants to corner the creators into admitting a hoax of sorts. He might even think that stunts like a quiet square, worst breath in the world, the exercise bike fueling the Chippendale neon and Kalles Kaviar in Japan, are all populated only by real people, surprised by this sudden ad-happening around them. Look. Advertising is not Candid Camera, it's closer related to "reality TV" where most of it is scripted, arranged and controlled. Because clients like to read 30-page decks before they spend a lot of money on a crazy idea. A really crazy idea would be to actually send the prime minister of Norway around as a cab driver for a day and not vet any of the passengers beforehand. Right?
So the VG journalist asks: "Isn't it bluffing/cheating when the passengers are selected before the ride?"
"Absolutely not" replies ad guru Try, "because the point is that they get in the car and didn't know that it was Stoltenberg that was driving it. Everyone was surprised."
Oh. So the whole 'point' was that they were surprised. There was no goal of actually putting the prime minister in touch with the real man on the street. That explains all the black people.
The passengers, vetted beforehand, also got 500 NOK for appearing in an ad, and signed the usual release forms. Now that it's been edited into shorter versions, this stunt will run as various 30-second ads in cinemas this fall when Norway's prime minister is up for re-election. Lets high five Kjetil Try and Pia Gulbrandsen the communication director of the labour party for spreading the fame of Norway and Jens Stoltenberg in a happier light than when his famous speech at the Utøya victims memorial service went viral.
So the next time you wave down a taxi in Oslo, it won't be driven by the prime minister.
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