Dancing’s Expressive Communication
The human movement of dancing in its many cultural, ritualistic, and rhythmic manifestations, has been with us for centuries as an expressive communication of emotion and narrative symbolism.
As most people have probably experienced, whether at home, at a celebration, in a dance club or concert audience, the activity of dancing can be a cathartic, liberating transcendence of the everyday.
The use of dance scenes in commercials has the power to draw viewers into sharing the emotions being expressed through the rhythms, patterns and movements created by a dancer or a performance group, as forms of creative self expression that cannot be substituted with words.
1. Burberry, Singing In The Rain
Agency & Production Company: Riff Raff Films
Creation & Direction: Megaforce
Directed by the Megaforce filmmaking collective of Leo Berne, Clement Gallet, Charles Brisgand, and Raphaël Rodriguez, Burberry teamed up with footballer and activist Marcus Rashford for their ‘Singing in The Rain’ commercial, to help finance a network of British youth centres to distribute thousands of meals across 11,000 charities and community groups.
Choreographed by the (LA) Horde collective in Marseilles, France, the commercial stars dancers Chantel Foo, Kevin Bago, Robinson Cassarino and Zhané Samuels.
Filmed on location in London’s Petticoat Lane, the dancers, in their Burberry weatherproof outerwear, deftly brave falling blocks of ice and snow in their celebratory dance routines to a soundtrack of Nacio Herb Brown, and Arthur Freed’s classic ‘Singing in The Rain’, with vocals by Dreya Mac.
Riccardo Tisci, Burberry’s chief creative officer, outlined the motivational concept behind the metaphoric demonstration of bravery and fortitude in overcoming life’s obstacles:
“It’s all about that fearless spirit and imagination when pushing boundaries, something that we hold so close to our hearts at Burberry”.
2. Generation Pep, Dance 10,000
Advertising Agency, Forsman & Bodenfors, Gothenburg, Sweden
‘Generation Pep’ is Swedish non-profit organisation, founded by Sweden’s Crown Princess Sofia, her husband Crown Prince Carl Philip, and former Olympic heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft.
Directed by filmmaker Filip Nilsson, the global ’10,000 Steps’ Initiative, aimed at providing all children with the motivational means to live an active and healthy life, stars nine-year-old French dancing prodigy, Lilyana Ilunga.
She delivers a breathtaking performance of the recommended 10,000 steps one should take daily, to avoid the problems and consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, to a soundtrack of “D.A.N.C.E” by French electronic music duo, Gaspard Augé, and Xavier de Rosnay.
3. KENZO, World Fragrance
In 1964 Japanese designer Kenzo Takada moved to Paris to start his fashion career and in 1970, successfully founded the French Luxury House KENZO that bears his name.
Conceived in-house by KENZO creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, the ‘KENZO World’ commercial was produced and directed by filmmaker Spike Jonez starring actress Margaret Qualley.
The soundtrack of “Mutant Brain”, was specially composed and written for the commercial by DJs Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums with vocals by Assassin.
The story is about a wedding guest in a green dress that leaves her table companions, and begins a surreal dance routine around the hotel. The scenario includes the spectacular symbolism of a prominent ‘eye icon’ that forms part of the brand’s packaging design.
The commercial was universally applauded by fashion and advertising trade presses for its originality, spirit of independence and freedom. It was described as an innovative break from classic impressionism to personified expressionism that created a new benchmark of what perfume advertising should be.
Two million views were recorded within a week after the commercial’s online posting, and the campaign went on to win many awards including an Epica Grand Prix for Film, and 8 Cannes Lions.
The top Cannes honour was a Titanium Lion, an exceptional award that goes to game-changing campaigns that shake up existing norms and rewrite the rules.
4. Nike, Russian Dancers
Produced by Nike JDI Russia, and directed by filmmaker Lance Acord, this TV and cinema commercial stars dancers Maria Vinogradova and Anastsiya Soboleva.
Sports and fitness scientists unanimously rate professional dancers among the world’s fittest athletes, and Nike JDI Russia’s ballerina and hip-hop ‘dance-off’, is a fitting tribute to the duo’s athleticism, elegant physicality, and dance routine disciplines.
The expressive performances of the two stars, each representing a different dance genre, evolves into one, visually engaging, synchronised movement.
The soundtrack by Music Producer Mary Catherine Finney, is a remix by ‘Endless Noise’ of Alexander Borodin’s composition, “Polovtsian Dance”.
5. Bose, Get Closer
Advertising Agency: Grey, London, UK
Directed by filmmaker Jaron Albertin, Bose’s Quiet Comfort 35 Headphones commercial, stars dancer and performer Maëva Berthelot.
An important insight for Bose was how culturally important and personal uninterrupted musical enjoyment is for their target audience.
Their competitors it seemed, were primarily focused on designing stylish headphones as fashion brand accessories, rather than improvements in noise cancelling headphones technology.
Bose decided therefore, to concentrate their research and development on providing their target consumers with the emotional benefits of an unprecedented and deeper connect to their musical passions.
The commercial centres on Mauve Berthelot entrancing dance movements as she gets ‘carried away’ by her uninterrupted enjoyment of a composition titled “Alchemy” by TALA, the stage name of London-based musician and songwriter Jasmin Tadjiky.
Filmed in a noiseless ‘empty’ London, the analogy inspired communication, effectively saw Bose QC 35 Headphones become a market leader.
6. Nike, Da-Da-Ding
Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Delhi, India
The Delhi Agency’s first advertising campaign for Nike was created to motivate registration and participation in Nike’s Training Club events and Run Club sessions in India, under their ‘NTC Live’ banner.
The campaign has a strong feminist focus based on the Agency’s human insight of sociological evidence that female participation in sports impacts positively on self-image and self-assurance, by instilling a sense of control, competency and strength.
The ‘Da-Da-Ding’ launch commercial, directed by esteemed filmmaker François Rousselet, was a creative triumph. Featuring Bollywood star Deepika Padukone and many of India’s top female athletes, representing a wide range of sporting disciplines, it rapidly went viral and motivated 2,8 online million views in less than a week.
Deepika Padukone posted a video on social media that generated further interest and many ‘shares’ with her message:
“Everything I am today, and everything I have achieved, comes from my years of playing sport,”
“My goals, my commitment, my focus, my dedication, my discipline, my sacrifices, my hard work; I’ve learned it all through sport. Sport has also taught me how to handle failure and success. It has taught me how to fight. It has made me unstoppable!”
The soundtrack “Da-Da-Ding” song by Gener8ion, featuring American rapper Gizzle, turned the Cannes Gold Lion award-winning commercial into an Internet dance-music sensation.
7. Nike, Run It
Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Tokyo, Japan
Directed by the WAFLA (We Are From La) filmmaking duo of Pierre Dupaquier, and Clément Durou, in collaboration with Korean-American Rapper Jay Park, the commercial for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, pays tribute to rule-breakers.
The vast Korean cast of the Hip-Hop ‘Run It’ commercial, includes local rapper Jessi, Olympic gold medalist SukHee Shim, world champion boxer HyunMi Choi, model HyunMin Han, choreographer J Black/J Pink, and members of the public.
Nike’s aim was to use the hosting of the Winter Olympics as an opportunity to inspire young Koreans to pursue their outdoor physical activities with confidence and passionate originality whatever that may be, and whatever the weather.
Interspersed with animated figures, and the Jay Park song “Run It” as the soundtrack, the commercial rapidly became part of Korea’s youth culture, made International headlines, and attracted a cult following.
8. Psy, Gangnam Style
Possibly the world’s most expressive demonstration to date of dancing activity’s unifying transcendence of cultural barriers, is South Korean singer-dancer Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ dance-pop video, that derives it’s name from the trendy lifestyle of Seoul’s Gangnam District.
It’s the first video in Internet history, that as of January 2021, has been viewed 4 billion times. Motivating thousands of joyous ‘Gangnam Style’ flash-mobs across the world, in the pre-pandemic ‘good old days’, it was hailed at the time as a ‘force for world peace’ by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.