A few months ago, I was invited to a casting call for a television commercial. The details were vague but I’m an attention seeker so I said what the hell. I was given an address which was some random warehouse in the middle of town. All I kept thinking about was why I had been asked to come here. It didn’t make sense to me. The only positive about it is that it was secure; I knew I would be safe. It was clear that the warehouse operatives had looked at something like this Industrial Door Company page to find the best commercial and industrial doors for their property. It really made the whole unit feel secure, and if I was being asked to come here for a television commercial, secrecy has never been so important. I told a few people what I was doing, mainly so that if these so called “casting people” ended up harvesting my organs, my loved ones would know which bathtub my iced-down body could be found.
Upon arrival I met with the casting director and she told me then the commercial would be about grocery shopping. I thought, oh, good– that’s a relief, because let’s face it, my liver is shot. No one would really want to harvest any organ of mine if they knew me. They sat me in a chair, mic’d me up and turned on a camera. That’s where it all went wrong. They started by asking about my shopping habits.
Director: How often do you shop for groceries?
Me: Too damn often. My children are like locusts, and eating me out of house and home. I’m sick of it. They want to eat, like, three times a day sometimes!
Director: Do you use coupons when you shop?
Me: Nah, that’s a pain. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Director: Do you ever shop at Walmart?
Me: Do I look like I shop at Walmart?
Director: Ha! Alrighty, then…
Anyway, it kind of went like that; she asked me a few other questions which I answered all wrong, then she asked me to tell a funny story about my kids and I panicked and told some horrible farting story. They all laughed politely, wrote something on a chart and couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. I remember thinking, wow- that could not have gone any worse. Oh, well– I guess I won’t be a television star. Now I have to go back to my boring family and I’ll never bang George Clooney at his villa in Italy. Shit. I went home and forgot about it. A week later they called me and asked if I wanted to be an “alternate mom” in the grocery shopping commercial… involving Walmart. Walmart?! ALTERNATE MOM?! Meaning I’m not even their first choice. Not the star; I’m the understudy. The stunt mom. The B-list mom. The runner-up mom, in case the real mom is unable to perform her duties. For fucking Walmart.
Oh, hellz no.
It hurt, y’all. I’m not gonna lie. So I said, “No, thank you and good day, sir!” (Even though it was technically a woman I was talking to.) I would have slammed the receiver down, but I was on my cell phone so I pressed the “end call” button extra hard. It felt good.
Well, apparently these people liked my
stuck up bitch hard to get attitude, because they called again a few weeks later! This time they were all apologetic and groveling, but I was still mad. So I waffled. Then they laid it all out on the line: Walmart needed me, y’all– they said the fact that I don’t shop at Walmart is exactly why they wanted me in the commercial. AS THE STAR. (Well, that is more like it, mofos.) They are trying to change their image with moms like me that go elsewhere to buy groceries. Huh. I’m listening… Also they were paying me for the day, buying all of the items on my weekly grocery list and giving me a $250 gift card. And if I could save a few bucks, why wouldn’t I become a regular Walmart customer? Why? Well, mainly because of um… you know…
But I’m no dummy– I said yes. I said OKAY, FINE, WALMART– STOP BEGGING. I WILL HELP YOU GET CLASSY. You’re welcome, Walmart! *sigh* They gave me the details and location of the shoot and asked that I bring my regular weekly grocery list and be prepared to shop. You bet your sweet ass I’m prepared to shop. For free! They didn’t care how much I bought, but I was not allowed to purchase alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets.
Um, excuse me, but did you say no alcohol??
Well, shit– there goes half my list.
On the morning of the shoot, I met the director and two executives from Walmart at a coffee shop next to a Kroger. That’s right– I was to sneak around buying groceries at Kroger with Walmart spies. It felt kinda dirty and wrong, so of course I liked it. Before I went in, they gave me an assload of cash in an envelope and said, “Don’t worry– you will have plenty for your groceries, just shop as you normally do.” Clearly these poor suckas didn’t know who they were dealing with, because within fifteen minutes I racked up $265 worth of crap. How you like me now? They didn’t bat an eye– I paid for my groceries with their money and we walked out. We loaded the groceries into a van and drove directly to a nearby Walmart. We walked straight to the back warehouse of the store and in two rooms they had the camera crew, a hair and make-up person and craft services table with various breakfast items. Two people were already on computers with my grocery receipt, cross-checking every item to see where the biggest price differences were. My Kroger groceries were in a cooler next door. A guy I recognized from other commercials introduced himself and said we would be fake shopping together. He had hair like Jimmy Neutron and I liked him immediately.
|“Don’t worry, Princess- you’ll look totally natural on camera.”|
After they slapped more makeup on me than RuPaul, Jimmy Neutron and I went over our lines. Well, I didn’t have many lines, thank gawd, but they did want me to mention how many gallons of gas my gas tank holds. I asked the director what my motivation was. After she refrained from slapping me hard they explained it was for legal reasons. (They were trying to prove Kroger “Fuel Points” card doesn’t save you enough money.) Um, saywhatnow? My gas tank? AS IF I know that information! I’m going to make a confession right now, readers: I rarely pump my own gas. As in, I never pump my own gas. You’re shocked by this, I know. Yeah, sure, I know how to do it, and every once in a while I have to do it, I just don’t like doing it, so the Current Legal Spouse takes care of it for me. *guilty smile* Call me a princess, I don’t care. The Walmart people were amused by this, too. After they finished rolling their eyes, they looked it up and the exact number is 26.4 gallons, which I will never forget because I repeated that number 26.4 gojillion freaking times that day.
The day mostly consisted of Jimmy and me cruising the aisles, talking savings and looking perky and excited and totes natural. Because I always wander around Walmart with a film crew and my gay best friend in pancake make-up, chatting about my gas tank. Jimmy would pull stuff off the shelves and say how much lower this item was at Walmart, and I would respond with a “Wow!” or “That’s fantastic!” or “Great price!” or “ARE YOU SHITTIN’ ME, JIMMY?!” Just kidding- they didn’t want me to say that last one… but I did it a few times anyway. I wish I had the outtakes, because those are way better than the commercial.
We broke for lunch and went to the warehouse where there was another lavish spread of food and drink waiting for us. I found this ironic, since we were in a Walmart, talking about savings and how much middle America needed the value at Walmart to get by. There was enough fancy food back there to feed Honey Boo Boo’s family for a week. None of it came from Walmart, I can assure you.
|“Truffle-infused pasta with soppressata makes me holla.”|
We shot a few more scenes, took a few pictures and I also did a radio spot. It’s amazing that it takes all day to shoot a few 30-60 second commercials, but it does and I was tired. One of the reasons it took so long was the verbiage in the ad. Jimmy Neutron had to say exactly what was written, and I mean verbatim. For legal reasons. And it had to be said quickly, so there were many, many takes. We had to talk like we were on crystal meth. It was unnatural. They thanked me, gave me my gift card and my groceries and said the commercial would start running soon in prime time. I went home, waited for George Clooney to call and tried to return to my normal life. But it’s hard when no one is there to touch up your lip gloss or hold your water bottle, y’all. Uugh.
A few days later my phone and Facebook page started blowing up with texts like this:
When I finally saw the damn commercial myself I was shocked at what they used: Two takes of me looking at Jimmy Neutron like I wanted to slap him and deadpanning, “wow” in both scenes. WTF?! I swear I was way more enthusiastic than that in many, many of the takes. I was downright effing perky in a few, even. But, as I said, the main thing Walmart wanted was to get the wording about savings, verbatim. So they happened to use two takes of me saying “wow” and looking less than enthused to be there. Wow. All my friends thought this was hilarious and SO VERY ME, but I felt bad. Truly. Everyone there was really nice to me, so I’m not trying to knock Walmart, I just don’t personally shop there and I guess it showed. I would have included a link to the commercial here, but I don’t have one anymore because, well …it disappeared! That’s right– They pulled it, I guess, deciding I’m not Walmart material after all..? Oopsie?
|A savings of $2.49? Wow.|
In the end, I’m glad I did it. It was a fun experience. Will I be a regular Walmart shopper now? I doubt it, but not for the reasons you think. I mean, yes, I’m still a stuck up bitch but also I have a few thoughts about Walmart’s grip on middle America and their philosophies that I won’t share here, because they paid me and I don’t want any Wal-lawyers coming after me. Everyone has their price and I guess mine was a free econo-size vat of Puffy Cheetos and 30 seconds of fame. Go figure.