Despite “People Are People”‘s success, Martin Gore considers it to be one of his least favourite songs. He prefers his songs to have subtle meanings so that people can find their own meanings to it, and feels “People Are People” does not fit that description . It was not played again live after 1988.
The US got a compilation called People Are People with various songs not available in the US prior to it. The single itself was released in the USA on July 11, 1984 (though it did not reach the Billboard Hot 100 chart until May 1985, and initially was played only on modern rock and college radio). The single would eventually peak at #13. In the UK, the single reached #4, which was at the time the band’s highest singles chart position in their homeland. Since then, “Barrel of a Gun” (1997) and “Precious” (2005) have also reached #4 in the UK. In West Germany the song was a #1 hit and was used as the theme to West German TV’s coverage of the 1984 Olympics, alluding to East Germany’s participation in the Soviet-led boycott of the Games. It was also used as the theme tune of the 1990s BBC Children’s factual TV series, It’ll Never Work.