When you can’t sell it, sing and dance it

—While the prospect of a dancing creative pitch brings back traumatic memories for Craig Redmond, these three ads prove the power of great choreography—

“Rather than making our usual creative presentation in the typical, boring old fashion, with me explaining what you will be seeing and then Craig here reciting his scripts, we thought we’d share our ideas a little differently today,” announced my British creative director, jumping onto the boardroom table and offering his hand to me as I recoiled in utter dread.

“Today we present through interpretive dance!” he pronounced with a thick, theatrically Germanic enunciation.

I said nothing, but the horror-struck glaze on my junior-copywriter face screamed everything. While the clients looked bemused, confused and, finally, rage-infused.

“Aww, I’m just taking the piss,” he finally confessed, after striking that exaggerated pose for an eternal pregnant pause. “C’mon lad,” he barked at me. “Don’t keep the ladies and gents waiting. Bring out the boards and let’s get on with it!”

That terrifying, and in hindsight totally hilarious, moment struck me with a career-long paralysis when it comes to considering any song-and-dance creative concept. Just recently, our team pitched a TV script of that pastiche to a client, and while I loved the idea unconditionally, I’d wake up in a middle-of-the-night, cold-sweat nightmare, recalling that time my crazed CD invited me to sashay across a boardroom table.

That said, I’ve recently noticed quite a bit of creative that is not just defaulting to the old, “if you can’t sell it, sing and dance it” advertising adage, but actually embracing the approach to express the marketer’s message through interpretive dance. And they’re frolicking across a whole breadth of categories.

For instance, the last subject one might consider addressing through modern dance would be the ravages of Parkinson’s disease. But this haunting concept from France, portraying life with the debilitating condition as a torturous dance partner, is both beautiful to watch and appallingly impossible to unsee.

Women’s health company Hertility, which proudly proclaims to be built by women for women, juxtaposes the sometimes graceful and sometimes contorted choreography of an ensemble troupe with an in-your-face, refreshingly candid narrative.

The best moment comes when the voiceover utters the phrase “too hormonal”—which has been used to berate and belittle women since time immemorial—and the dancers respond with a defiant flip of the bird.

After watching this stunning homage to women’s reproductive autonomy, all I could think of was that it should be played in a loop on monitors, surreptitiously staged in every State Legislature lobby across the United States of America.

Last, but by no means least, is a spot for Dutch denim makers G-Star Raw, which proudly claims that all of its jeans are unwashed and untreated, making them both more comfortable and environment friendly.

I first saw this little number nearly a year ago, and while “Rhythm of Denim” showcases the supple elasticity and timeless style of the product line, the pure unrepentant joy of the production has had me revisiting its glory again and again, especially when a melancholy moment begs for intervention.

In the end, it’s not the first advertising territory I would explore as a creative person. But one thing’s for sure: If I had come up with any one of these choreographed gems, I would have been the first to hop up onto the boardroom table to present them with a little interpretive prance of my own.

Lovely stuff.

Craig Redmond is creative director at Grey Canada.  

Craig Redmond