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Dance in Advertising: The Silent Persuader
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Introduction

As many consumers know, the "four p's" of price, product, place, and promotion are used by companies in their marketing strategies.

Dance on the screen, in the studio, in theater, and in social setting has always intrigued me. As a child, I was always awed and mesmerized by dance when I saw it on television. Apparently, I was not the only one. I know this because recently I had the pleasure of reviewing television archives at The Paley Center in Beverly Hills, California, as well as at the University of California, Los Angeles. In their collections, both organizations make available television shows and advertisements with dance in them from the early advent of television in the 1950s.

In the area of persuasive communications in television advertising much has been written about the effects of music. In particular, music can incite moods, memories, and modalities of behaviors. In tandem, these push consumers to spend more money and more time, from shopping in a store to spending more time at a table in a restaurant or in recalling the name or nature of a brand. Musical jingles help consumers remember brands that are then associated with life experiences, and music with popular lyrics associated with the brand are even more persuasive in communicating with consumers.ix

Aesthetics in advertising persuasion has been emerging as a topic for consideration alongside the study of feeling-based motivators. According to some researchers, consumers consider themselves as subjects of adornment and feel good about how they costume themselves.x And while there has been debate about the motivations of cultural productions in advertising, it remains true that the field draws on cultural markers when trying to appeal to consumers.xi

In the Media

Currently in the light of the cultural landscape, there has been an explosion of dance in movies. Witness the newly revised and released version of Footloose, which the Los Angeles Times reported grossed $16.1 million, half of the total earned back in 1984, in its first weekend release. The dissemination of the ballet movie, Black Swan, released December 3, 2010, has recorded $329,398,046 in worldwide sales. Note as well that even Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel released in December 2009, which has a significant amount of dancing, has worldwide sales of $443,140,005 as of this writing. Clearly, demand exists for watching dancing in movies.

Let us not forget the weekly television programs, such as Dancing with the Stars (hereinafter DWTS) in its 13th season, and So You Think You Can Dance (hereinafter SYTYCD). DWTS is one of the most highly rated television programs, with more than 19 million viewers regularly, with a peak viewership in May 2011. Moreover, currently, ABC News in Los Angeles includes a segment on their morning show that covers the "scores" on DWTS. The show has permeated the mindset of our culture; as I was preparing an exam for my undergraduate marketing students not long ago, I came across this question in the test bank:

According to Figure 1, if a firm wanted to buy commercial time, which of the following statements would be most accurate?

Figure 1. 

A. Even though Dancing with the Stars-Results has a slightly higher rating than Dancing with the Stars, it reflects a single episode so the difference is not really significant.

B. Most companies should avoid advertising on CBS since it has fewer top-ranked shows.

C. People who like music are more likely to watch ABC than FOX.

D. In terms of Dancing with the Stars and Dancing with the Stars-Results, ratings are more important than market share.

E. In terms of Dancing with the Stars and Dancing with the Stars-Results, market share is more important than market share.

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The answer is D. Because TV and cable networks sell almost $65 billion annually in advertising and set advertising rates to advertisers on the basis of those data, precision in the Nielsen data is critical. Thus, a change of one percentage point in a rating can mean gaining or losing millions of dollars in advertising revenues because advertisers pay rates on the basis of the size of the audience...


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