The New Adage of Dance – DANCE SELLS!
The expressive power of dance has been a hallmark of human communication since the dawn of time. History has played witness to a huge range of human movement from ancient tribal celebrations to sophisticated ballet performances. The emotion of the physical form has always been an undeniable aspect of who we are as people. In the modern consumer landscape, advertising executives around the world are finally realizing this simple truth; dance sells! It has the ability to invade our souls and push us to higher places of consciousness, and our corporate kindred are hoping it will lure us to their newest products.
With the exception of obvious technological advancements, the essential differences between the papyrus pamphlets scattered throughout ancient Cairo and the rush of lights and colors in Times Square are slight and trivial. The main purpose of both scenarios remains the persuasion and expanded knowledge of a product or idea. However, modern advertising bears the unique problem of constant competition for the eyes and ears of an increasingly fickle population. Casting a net wide enough to cover a diverse range of demographics in a fragmented media landscape has proven to be a daunting task and an art form in and of itself. Dancers and their own tremendous talents have rarely been utilized as a commercial commodity until recently. With the advent of hit dance shows filling the airwaves and renewing interest in the craft, companies and their ad agencies are discovering the rich resources that dancers possess. This subsequent increase in publicity for dance on television and on the internet has forced consumers to take stock in their awareness of celebrities in the dance community (Jamie King, The Winger’s Kristin Sloan, and the dance company Pilobolus, among others).
Taking a cue from the past success of their “Khakis Swing” ad campaign of the late 90’s, Gap, Inc. recently infused movement and celebrity into their “Boyfriend’s Trousers” commercial. Utilizing the talent and appeal of Claire Danes and Patrick Wilson, the clothing company turned what could have been a static retail spot into a witty, tongue-in-cheek use of bodies in motion. The company, tarnished by declining sales and a fading public image, realizes that the intrinsic appeal of dance can help bring to life the Gap’s relevance and sustainability in our collective consciousness.
MARIOTT INTERNATIONAL AD
Obviously, it is simply not enough anymore to stand in front of a camera and hawk your latest product. Even major celebrity endorsements (once a vital and almost necessary way to sell products) have proven to be stale and formulaic. Now dancers have become a go-to talent because of the many forms they’re able to create due to their expansive minds and bodies. Hyundai and Pilobolus recently teamed up for a fascinating tour-deforce exploring the human body and the numerous shapes and structures it can form. Beginning as an unidentifiable mound of bodies, the talented Pilobolus dancers seamlessly create a music-hall scenario, the sparking embers of a campfire, and finally the Hyundai Santa Fe – culminating in the vibrating tagline “flexible, agile, for whatever shape life takes.” Acknowledging the public’s fatigue of the old car on the road scenario, the ad and tagline is an impeccable depiction of the car itself and an impressive example of the power of dance. The subsequent success of the “Life Shapes” campaign raised further public awareness of the legendary dance company. Shortly after appearing in the ads, Pilobolus displayed their immense talents on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and the 79th Annual Academy Awards in 2007, proving that dance as a visual art has found a renewed relevance in new and exciting arenas.
Other experimental dance companies are being called upon for their possible translation into the commercial world. Puma recently partnered with Tony Award-winning New York dance troupe Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company for their Urban Mobility Collection. The print campaign (named “I’m Going”) captures snapshots in time imbued with the energy and elegance that only a dancer could personify. In another spot, the kinetic energy of breakdancing was used by Visa to embody the flexibility of their check card. Set in a futuristic urban convenience store, the kids are brought to a stand-still the moment a checkbook is taken out and toiled over, only to burst into motion once the card returns.
PILOBOLUS IN ONE OF THE LATEST FORD COMMERCIAL:
As the fickle tastes of mainstream society shift and ebb, and interest in dance continues to rise, dancers are no longer relegated to perform backup in an MTV video or overshadowed by the leads that they are supporting. Dancers are finally being sought after for their innumerable talents and receiving the attention, acclaim and respect in the industry that they deserve. Perhaps this is only a fad and interest in dance, despite being one of the oldest art forms in history, will fade. But as long as the talent is razor-sharp and ever-present, dancers will continue to be used in print, television, and internet advertising for decades to come. Gone are the days of the static housewife simply holding up her cleaning products and beauty remedies and blankly telling us about them – dancers are ready to kick through the screen to show us what movement is all about.
PUMA IN MOTION - For the third consecutive season, Puma has partnered with Tank Design, a strategic branding and design firm based in Cambridge, MA, for their latest campaign. Puma looked to the famed Tony Award- Winning dance troupe Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, known for their modern, avant-garde work.
First published in movmnt magazine issue 6, “Keep it Real” – Spring 2008 issue