Dancing Fools

There are roughly two types of “dancing” commercials. The first uses dance as a pure expression of the brand. The Gap campaign and the silhouetted iPod spots of a few years back are good examples. I have no issue with this use of dance in commercials.

In the other type of dancing spot, we see people dancing with glee or joy or happiness or whatever in reaction to the benefit of a product or service. These are not abstract human representations of the personality of a brand. These are presumed to be more or less real people in more or less real world environments like their homes, workplaces, on the street, etc.

I have a HUGE problem with these spots. There have been scores of them over the decades. I’d like to say the preponderance of them were during the 60’s and 70’s, but, sadly, that hasn’t been the case. Today, we are as likely to be subjected to one of these travesties as 50 years ago. Some recent offenders? Swiffer. Glade. Wachovia. Banquet Crock Pot Meals. Shoe Carnival. The list is longer than this.

So what’s my problem? It is the unconscionable degree of falseness entailed in dancing because you’re so happy about your jumbo mortgage from Wachovia, or so pleased with how easy it is to clean the floor with a Swiffer, or so delighted at your yummy prefab meal. In spots like these, the advertiser clearly has succumbed to the inexcusable indulgence of showing their presumed target reacting as the advertiser could only dream they would, by waltzing, two stepping, prancing with irrepressible glee. Whatz!?

They is sooo 60’s-era in their superficiality and lack of any connection to the real world and real people’s real emotions. The absence of credibility in these portrayals undermines their ability to communicate a credible, to say nothing of compelling, message regarding the product. It’s one thing for a person to reveal a smile of satisfaction regarding a product or service (though even this usually looks bogus in a commercial context). But to show supposedly real-ish people breaking into dance over life’s most trivial and banal matters is so beyond the pale, it violates the understanding between advertisers and consumers that commercials will hang on to some thread of plausibility in the claims and promises contained within them. These dancing fools make the advertiser look equally foolish. And it’s just plain insulting to the viewer.

All of us in the industry pay the price for the damage done by this violation. Agencies who continue to offer advertising like this to their clients are guilty of enabling these advertisers’ worst urges. I personally resent having to labor under the ongoing burden created by such disingenuous advertising. You should too.


Anonymous said...

Actually, had Swiffer done it right it could have captured a charming human moment. Who has not turned up the music and danced away cleaning. The problem with the Swiffer spot is that it is the reason for the dancing instead of being the partner

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