Beware the Fat Man

Theater student Natalie Alvarez takes a close look at Jonathan Ressler's "guerrilla advertising" company, Big Fat, Inc. In order to bypass consumer skepticism about advertising, Ressler hires "real people" to talk up his clients' products in bars, parks and other public places. "We plant a group of people in a bar or other public setting and instruct them to use a brand, perform a ritual, repeat a sound bite, and involve others in the activity," Ressler explains. As these "secret agents of capitalism" invade our daily routines, Alvarez ponders the blurred boundaries between illusion and reality, theater and life. "It's The Truman Show," says an advertising executive. "Did your wife marry you because she loves you, or because she wants you to buy a certain brand of soap?"