Most regular viewers of commercial TV will have seen the series of adverts for Homebase which were filmed using the railway station at Carlisle. Many enthusiasts think the station would look far more inviting had someone managed to persuade Homebase to leave all their kit in place.
What may not be universally known is the significant extra cost that had to be incurred just to make the adverts look, well, natural. On the face of it, we see ordinary people just going about the business of life. Or do we?
Having a random group of the travelling public filmed passing through Carlisle station and pausing to look at the contents of two Homebase artics that had been arranged on the platforms, the result might not have looked natural. The production team had to remove any such possibility.
So the directors made sure it looked natural, and to do so, they offered some of those travelling by train the opportunity to be extras in the advert. The initial inducement was thirty pounds. There were no takers. Undeterred, the offer was increased to seventy pounds. Still there were no takers.
The travelling public might look a little too discerning at this point, but it has to be borne in mind that there were a number of retakes needed. This meant rather more than walking across the set and collecting the readies: after all, remember, it had to look natural.
So the offer was increased to a hundred and thirty notes, at which point – those still following in the footsteps of Milton Friedman will be much relieved – the market was cleared. The advert was a wrap, and the artics could take the goodies back to the warehouse.
And that extra cost has been offset by the many variants of the original advert, so for Homebase – “the client” – it has made very good sense.