NY Times article on how dance is taking over!
Five, Six, Seven, Eight: Madison Avenue Shows It Still Loves the Right Moves
By STUART ELLIOTT
New York Times (July 6, 2007)
MADISON AVENUE is going all Fred-and-Ginger on consumers, filling commercials, Web sites and other forms of advertising with energetic dance steps and music.
The goal of marketers like Apple, Carnival Cruise Lines, the Church & Dwight Company, Gap and the nation’s milk processors is to take advantage of a renewed interest in dance in the popular culture.
The trend is typified on TV by highly rated series like “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” as well as movies like â€œHigh School Musicalâ€ on the Disney Channel, which is spawning a sequel next month.
In theaters, dance is a central part of films like “Dreamgirls,” “Hairspray, “Mad Hot Ballroom,” “Shall We Dance,” “Step Up” and “Take the Lead,” among others.
“Dance is universal; it’s something everyone relates to,” said Stacey Feldman, vice president for marketing of the women’s health and personal care brands at Church & Dwight in Princeton, N.J.
The Nair product line sold by Church & Dwight is the subject of a campaign by the Joey Agency, centered on a dance routine that was created and choreographed by Fatima Robinson. She was the choreographer for “Dreamgirls” as well as the pilot episode of “Viva Laughlin,” a series about a Nevada casino that made the CBS fall schedule.
“The MTV generation of kids is so used to quick stimulation,” Ms. Robinson said, offering her theory about the increasing presence of dance in ads. “You have to keep up with what the kids are used to.”
Dance’s appeal beyond ballrooms and school gymnasiums “comes in waves, like every five years,” Ms. Robinson said. “It reinvents itself.”
Indeed, a commercial for Nair, which can be watched on television and a Web site (nairlikeneverbefore.com), pays tribute to a predecessor from the 1970s featuring a routine danced to the novelty song â€œShort Shorts.”
Likewise, two recent commercials by Laird & Partners for the Gap division of Gap – featuring terpsichorean turns by Audrey Hepburn, Claire Danes and Patrick Wilson – arrived nine years after a celebrated series of dance-centric Gap spots with titles like “Khaki swing,” “Khaki a-go-go” and “Khaki country.”
“Like denim and khakis, dance and music are part of our brand heritage,” said Kimberly Terry, a spokeswoman for Gap in San Francisco. “We will continue to reinvent how we incorporate dance in future advertising.” In an example of the continuous recycling of pop culture made possible by the Internet, video clips of the dancing 1998 Gap commercials can be watched on Web sites like google.com.
The swing spot, presenting a gaggle of khaki-clad youngsters performing a frenetic dance to “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” by Louis Prima, has been viewed more than 62,800 times since it was posted on Google last August.
Speaking of recycled culture, the release on July 20 of the movie version of the Broadway musical “Hairspray” – itself based on a nonmusical film from 1988 – is being supported with a dance-oriented campaign, seeking to capitalize on numbers in the movie that are based on dances from the early ’60s.
The company that is releasing “Hairspray,” the New Line Cinema division of Time Warner, is teaming up with promotional partners like the Arthur Murray dance studios and the Carnival Cruise Lines unit of the Carnival Corporation.
For instance, New Line is sponsoring “Hairspray” sock hops for teenagers on Carnival ships and is sending the ships’ dance instructors and cruise directors DVDs with lessons demonstrating “Hairspray” dances, which bear fanciful names like the Peyton Place After Dark.
“We’ve raised a generation on musicals, most notably Disney productions like ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” said Lance Still, executive vice president for national promotions at New Line in Los Angeles.
It is the same generation, Ms. Still said, “that is becoming very fluent in tuning out advertising messages delivered in traditional ways,” hence the efforts to gain attention with dance-related marketing.
Among the other examples of Madison Avenue busting a move are the dance campaign for the Apple iPod that began appearing in 2003, created by TBWA/Chiat/Day, part of the TBWA Worldwide unit of the Omnicom Group, and the milk mustache print ads featuring cast members of “High School Musical” and “Dancing With the Stars,” created by the Lowe Worldwide division of the Interpublic Group of Companies.
“Our difference with other nonalcoholic beverages is a nutritional difference, but telling the nutrition story is not always the most exciting thing,” said Kurt Graetzer, chief executive at the Milk Processor Education Program in Washington, which finances the milk mustache campaign.
“Having a celebrity tell that story, especially one you might have just seen on TV or in a movie, is a wonderful way to get an important message across,” he added.
Besides, to be a great dancer, “you’ve got to be healthy, you’ve got to be strong,” Mr. Graetzer said, so having dancers endorse milk helps deliver that message in a deft, low-key way.
Hmmmm. Could Astaire and Rogers have danced cheek to cheek in swing time if they were sporting make-believe dairy mustaches?