How a Product Testing Opportunity Landed Me A Commercial Shot
By Laurie Penman
Participating in market research got me to Hollywood to be in a commercial. It was the farthest thing from my mind when I participated in a product testing opportunity a few years back. I cannot disclose what company, but here’s what went down: after filling out the screener for the product, I was notified that I had been chosen to test it for two weeks. The product was mailed to me at NO cost and I faithfully tested it out and went online to give my user experiences and notations as I used it. I thought that would be the last of that, as it is with so many of the product tests that I have done and I just sat back and waited for my $100 payment to come. However, just a few days later I received a phone call from a very nice lady who was working with the product manufacturer to develop a new commercial. She told me that they wanted me to send them a video of me talking about what I do (I was a construction worker then) etc. and told me I had two days to get it to them. I initially thought, “no I’m not really interested,” but my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do it anyways and sent it on in. Imagine my surprise when a day or so later I got THE CALL.
“Hey Laurie, this is Suzy and we would like to let you know that out of over 40 submissions yours is one of 5 women we would like to invite out to Beverly Hills to make a commercial for this product. You will be gone 4 days, our limo will pick you up at your door,your round trip ticket and hotel stay are paid for and we will have an agent at LAX to pick you up and take you to your hotel, then after the shoot is over we will fly you home and right back to your door…are you interested?”
I didn’t even ask my boyfriend if he cared if I went! This was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me so very randomly and I was going to ride this all the way to the end! I couldn’t believe my dumb luck. I excitedly made my exit plans for the very next weekend. Just as promised, a big stretch limo pulled up to my house and a very nice driver escorted me to the car and loaded my bags. The drive to O’Hare was full of butterflies and nervous excitement as I pondered what laid ahead in the next four days.
At the airport I was surprised to find that another of the ladies was from Chicago proper. I was elated to have a travel bud, and she was so much fun and just the sweetest person. Of the five ladies that went to make the commercial I am still friends with 3 of them on Facebook and we stay in touch. They were also ladies who were hip to online surveys,focusgroups,product-testing etc and we bonded immediately over our love of all things FREE!
We stayed in Beverly Hills at the VERY prestigious Mr. B’s. I was rubbing elbows with celebrities……I literally ran right into Cindy Crawford in the hallway to the bathroom. I CAN say she was the sweetest person and very gracious when I told her how much I loved her! As I returned to my party in the lobby I saw George Clooney in the dining room with his then fiance’ having dinner. It was the coolest, most surreal thing I have ever done.
Each of us ladies got $200 pocket money for the next four days. We each had a private and BEAUTIFULLY APPOINTED luxury 5-star hotel room. We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant where I had seen George Clooney, chandeliers and mahogany…….this place drips money. I felt like I was dreaming this whole thing. We spent that first night walking down Rodeo Drive and drinking it all in. The lights, the stores, the beautiful people everywhere. Everything was amazing, fantastic and so very much fun!
It was Oscar Week in Hollywood and the place was buzzing with excitement and lots of construction going on. I visited Madam Tussauds wax museum, walked the “Walk of Stars”, ate at a local burger place whose name I cannot recall. I had my own driver to take me around town “for the day” while they were shooting the other girls parts. I took a TMZ tour bus around Hollywood sitting on the top so I could see everything. I soaked it all in, I had no idea when I might be able to come back on my own, so I wanted to make the most of the time I had there.
Turns out that because I had a DUI years ago on my record, that the company whose product I had tested decided they weren’t going to use me…..however the producer met with me and told me
“Don’t take it bad, I wasn’t ever picked either for the very same reason”…..he smiled and continued……”We can either send you home today, or………the room is already paid for, you could just stay and fly home on schedule, enjoy some time here, we’ll give you a driver to take you anywhere you like” to which I replied “Well then, looks like I’m stayin!” On top of all of that, they still paid me SAG pay for the shoot. I came home with a $2500 check, a round-trip flight, a stay at a 5-star hotel for 4 days @$550 a night and lets not forget the limo. They treated me so well,and everyone was super professionnal I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again, and in all honesty I’m always looking for that next amazing opportunity. There’s really no way to guarantee that a product-testing opportunity will lead to something this amazing. But I can guarantee you that it will lead to fun, and some extra cash.
There’s so many great ways to find money on the internet without having to pay ANYONE to find them or share them with you. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and I can attest that it is both fun and PROFITABLE. I can also attest that I actually kept a detailed record one year just to see how much I amassed in a one year period and the total came out to just a bit over $10,500! It wasn’t all cash, it was products I tried out (generally you get to keep them AND get paid as well) some of the products after testing them I would sell them. Double dipping so that I got paid to test it out and then also made money selling it for about half of what someone would actually pay for it. My product tests have included:
5 coffee makers
2 satellite radios
1 cutlery knife block set
1 toaster oven
1 digital camera
1 spy truck kids toy with remote camera
TONS of beauty products and food/beverage items
Diapers when my daughter was small
The internet holds a myriad of things…….you just need to know where to look. Let me be your guide. I share what I find online on a very small blog called lauriepaysitforward.blogspot.com
Come find me!