How to make the perfect vox pop

13th July 2016
Cheap, cheerful and highly shareable, vox pops are a format beloved of both audiences and budget-savvy content makers. But those 5-second grabs are backed by strategy, planning and legal box-ticking. BauerWorks’ resident vox popper, Jillian Lewis shares her dos and don’ts.

The term vox pop is derived from the Latin term ‘vox populi’, which means voice of the people. They can be insightful, passionate – and extremely funny. We love this one by Jimmy Kimmel which clocked up over 10 million views in just over a year. (Kids always shine in a vox pop because #nofilter and cute.)

And this from TransferWise that has over 2.3 million views. It’s not too long, and it makes us Aussies feel really smart and special. #winning 

Vox pops may be all about capturing the candid moment, but they need a solid base of strategy, planning and legal oversight. At BauerWorks, we’ve created a number of vox pops for our clients – both digital and print – so we’ve had some experience on how to get it right and we’ve learned from our mistakes. Here’s what we know. (Plus, hang on til the end to see one of the most famous vox pops of all time, with a funky beat.)

Vox pops may be all about capturing the candid moment, but they need a solid base of strategy, planning and legal oversight.

How to get your vox pop right!


Be prepared. If you think you can head out on the street and wing it, you’ll soon discover it’s not that easy, even if you’re talking about something as innocuous cheese. Have a list of prepared questions to work with. Write the same question in different ways so you have a lot of options. For instance: “What do you think of blue cheese?” Or “If blue cheese was the only cheese available, how would you feel?” Or “If you could compare blue cheese to a human, who would you compare it to?” Get creative!


Have a simple release form. If you want to use your subject’s face you need them to sign a release form. Keep it simple. If it’s too long, they’ll shy away. You need a name, a signature and a statement that confirms you have permission to use the individual’s image, voice or quote in all media, worldwide, in perpetuity. Keep in mind that kids need their parents’ permission. If you’re not sure if they’re 18, ask. “Are you over 18?” 


Avoid yes or no questions. These will get you nowhere fast. Try asking open-ended questions. Or better yet, start the person off by saying “Finish this sentence, ‘I love blue cheese because…’”


Keep track of who’s who. By the end of the day you may not remember who said what, even if you think you will. Write down clues on their release form to help jog your memory. For instance, ‘wearing a blue top and red cap; said blue cheese is better than salami.’


Don’t take it personally. Here’s a guarantee: you will be rejected while doing a vox pop. People will say no. Be prepared and don’t let it affect your mood! It’s ok – just move on. Not everyone wants to share their blue cheese.


Look around you. Once you’ve started, you might find you get on a roll. That could be because people see you talking about blue cheese to others and they want in on the subject. Humans are curious and they all want a piece of the cheese. Take note of those loitering around you and target them next. They might be an easy get.


Avoid too much detail. When you approach someone, avoid jumping in with too much detail. For instance, “Hi, I’m Mary and I’m from the Cheese Factory, we are hoping to get some information from people in the area about what they think of cheese – well, blue cheese in particular. I just need you to sign a form and then we’ll ask a few questions.” Stop yourself. It’s too much. A simple “Mind if I ask you a quick question?” might be all you need to get the convo going.


Watch your tone of voice. When approaching people, be genuinely curious. If you seem blasé, like you don’t really care about blue cheese, they won’t care either. Act as though blue cheese is your life and you really want to know their opinion. Be curious!


Engage group mentality. People don’t like to feel singled out. In your pitch you might want to mention that you’re “talking to lots of people in the area about blue cheese” to make them feel like they’re part of a group.


Watch your audience. Think about the audience for your vox pop and try to target people of the same demographic. If you’re doing a vox pop for a parenting website about the age at which it’s appropriate for kids to start walking home from school on their own, it’s probably best not to talk to a group of 20-year-olds without kids. You won’t get you the information you want. Plan your location wisely and look for a demographic that fits your audience.


Get a permit. It’s always a good idea to tick all the boxes and get the permits you need. A low-impact vox pop (with just one or two crew) is most often free. Just be sure to apply to the local council so you don’t get caught on the day.


Need a little inspiration for your next vox pop? Check out Cake’s official music video of their song Short Skirt / Long Jacket. 



Main image credit: Joshua Morris for Weight Watchers

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