Too Much Dancing in TV Ads

A dancer in a TV commercial for prescription drug Jardiance

Dancers in a TV commercial for prescription drug Jardiance
I have nothing against dancing. In fact, once in junior high my partner and I won a waltz contest. And like most red-blooded American boys of that era, I thought there was something rather sensual about Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth pressing the flesh with Fred Astaire. Hell, I was even rooting for Maria and Captain Von Trapp to make out while doing the Laendler. On-screen or in real life, dancing is a beautiful expression of friendship and love, and an outlet for fun. It’s what most toddlers do the first time they hear snappy music, and as we get older, we dance at wedding receptions, parties, and nightclubs. Dancing is in our blood. That’s why Dancing With the Stars is one of the most popular programs on television. My beef isn’t with dancing, it’s with the plethora of corny TV commercials that have come to rely on dancing to sell products that have nothing to do with dancing.   

Truth is, dancing has been used in TV advertisements since the 1950s, but it has become overused since the early part of this century. Today people appearing in TV ads seem to break into dance moves at the drop of a hat, regardless of the product they are hawking.

Beverage ads are among the biggest offenders. A girl drinking Sun Drop cola dances from scene to scene, interrupting people who are doing yoga on the beach. A guy opens a bottle of Coca-Cola in a convenience store and starts dancing to other locations, including into someone’s bedroom where kids are playing video games, and on a rooftop where some guys are watching a soccer match. A young man is put on hold, so while waiting to be connected, he and his wife start dancing because they like Bud Light. Guys in a barber shop get up and start dancing in the street, then dance over to a laundromat, then suddenly they are at the beach. The reason? Because Bicardi “Moves you.” A flash mob gathers in a hotel lobby where they spontaneously break into a rip-off of “Thriller”… Why? Because they all drink Lipton Ice Tea. And who knew that babies start dancing when given a bottle of Evian to sip on? 

Food ads are also filled with dancing. In one spot, a Fig Newton mascot entices us to eat him by dancing the “Fig Newton Dance.” Meanwhile, animated characters dance with joy because they just called Grub Hub. And we’re prompted to shop at Whole Foods because their stores feature a cut-out of two people dancing in front of fully stocked shelves.

Automobile manufacturers also rely on dancing to sell their products. In one ad Toyota featured a disco dance party, and in another, a customer breaks into a maniacal dance just because there’s a sale going on. Volkswagen once transformed Gene Kelly into a hip-hop hoofer, and Kia used dancing bears who performed to “Gangnam Style” music.

Smartphones and cellular companies are no strangers to the dance craze either. They have included Samsung and T-Mobile which featured flash mobs, and Nextel where folks at a dance party love their phone service.

But the most obnoxious TV commercials are for weight loss medicines. Jardiance features a postal carrier who walks past a bunch of people hanging around an outdoor fountain. Suddenly the mob starts dancing because they are excited about diabetes. Sensa even brings law enforcement into their act. In one spot a police officer is suddenly surrounded by a mob of people dancing in front of a courthouse. The judge then comes outside and commences to perform cartwheels, all because he heard about a salt shaker that cuts calories. But the champion of dancing-themed TV commercials is Ozempic. In every spot, crowds of people gyrate as they sing “Oh, oh, oh, Ozempic!” Having tried Ozempic myself I can tell you that “Oh, oh, oh” refers to what you scream as you try to make it to the bathroom.

I suppose that TV spots featuring people dancing for no reason are harmless so long as the dancers are drinking Coca-Cola, or attending a sale at the Kia dealership. But such nonsense is frivolous and misleading when it comes to life-threatening diseases like diabetes, arthritis, COPD and obesity, and I’m not the only one who is bothered by this. Social media is replete with folks who are offended by this kind of television advertising.

Someone on Reddit named Dandle recently posted:

“There are currently more than 19,000 prescription drugs approved for marketing in the U.S….too many of those ad campaigns are created by agencies gunning for recognition at industry award shows rather than engaging appropriate audiences with helpful and relevant information about an available treatment for a specific health condition. Awards go to the spots with mascots and song and dance numbers, not to the earnest and measured summaries of scientific information.”

Dancing can be lots of fun, but there’s just nothing funny about our health. The ad agencies who put this crap on TV should be ashamed, or at least be made to scream on the way to the bathroom.

 
 

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