Donald Trump hired a crowd for his presidential campaign announcement, but you can get yourself a crowd for whatever purpose you have in mind. Just call.
Remember how pundits and observers made fun of Donald Trump for attending his presidential bid press conference by riding down an escalator, and then completely attacked him with complaints that he bought the crowd in attendance at the reception?
Of course, a couple of weeks later, everyone is being careful about criticizing Trump now that he leads the race for the Republican nomination for president.
Besides, it turns out that buying a crowd for a special event is not that unusual.
There are companies that provide crowds, not just for movie scenes but for whatever reason you might need a crowd. In political circles, the practice of creating a crowd when one does not naturally exist is known as “astro-turfing” but the practice is easier than it used to be because there are people ready to provide a freeze-dried crowd.
There are companies like Crowds on Demand, Crowds for Rent and Extra Mile Casting, which is the company Trump used for his campaign announcement.
Crowds on Demand, a company that got its start in 2012, was initially created for corporate events and public relations maneuvers, but founder Adam Swart found that public officials running for office needed his services as well.
“Our business is about cultivating perception,’’ Swart told the Atlantic. “It’s basic marketing.”
Swart said he can provide hundreds of people, perhaps as much as 1,000 with enough notice and proper payment to the stand-ins. He currently has services available in San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. if you are of a mind to get a crowd together.
Similar companies are working internationally, including Envisage Promotions in London.
Swart said he goes to great lengths to keep secret his involvement in almost any project due to concerns it might be embarrassing to the person buying the crowd. But he is adamant that the service he is offering is ethical.
“I say it is far less misleading than negative TV ads that are often proven to be half-truths or complete fabrication,’’ Swart said. “I’m engaging with the political process and making people think.”
Crowds for Rent calls itself a “national crowd rental service”, and on its webpage it quotes P.T. Barnum saying “nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.” Extra Mile Casting adds the tagline “On the Road to Fame” on its webpage.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.