by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) I love to dance. I think I was bouncing around my mother’s womb when I was only a couple of cells old. I’m well into my 50s and still I’ll take any opportunity to get up and dance, be it at a wedding or whatever: it must be my Greek blood. So I’m pretty much primed for the ad we’re speaking about this week.

King James II got the talented Terence Neal of Egg Films to direct an eye-catching TV ad for 5FM’s Live Loud campaign. All about the power of music — and what happens if it isn’t there — this commercial speaks to the heart. I’m telling you, this ad could have been made for me, and me alone. (Or at least anyone who loves music and dancing as much as I do.)

King James II TVC for 5FM: “Without 5”

The bulk of the ad is a montage of people dancing by themselves, in a number of situations and locations. It’s that ‘dance as if no-one is watching’ kind of thing, but this much more a matter of queue the silent disco.

5FM Without 5 TVC screengrab man in red suitThere’s a Michael Jackson type, all in white, dancing in a parking garage, a Swenka on a railway platform, a ballerina in a studio, a group of Pantsulas watching one of their members in a Soweto street, a CCTV image of someone dancing in a shop aisle, a group of middle-aged people in a ballroom dancing class, two pole dancers upside down… and more.

This commercial movie is a celebration of movement — of people from all kinds of different walks of life, dancing. But the ‘punchline’ here is that there is no music. These peeps are moving like crazy, but it looks pretty silly because there’s no beat. The only soundtrack is the dancers’ feet on the ground, clothes rustling and their breathing.

That’s what makes the mini-movie so eye-catching: instead of pressing the ‘mute’ button, it’s likely people will turn up the sound to figure out what’s happening.

About two-thirds of the way through, text appears on screen that reads: “Without 5 it’s just you.” There’s a scene of the guy dancing in this shot and, in the motion of the dance, mid-shot the image shifts to slow-mo. That’s when the glorious music fades in, and everything comes together.

5FM Without 5 TVC screengrab little girl robot dancing     The song used is one by Goldfish called Take Back Tomorrow. When the music starts making sense to the movie, we go back and all dancers and their dances are revisited, but this time they don’t look ridiculous. The music ties them all together in a dance montage that’s infectious and fun.

It’s an ad that makes the watcher want to jump up and dance. Now even the pole dancers are in sync, and the camera has moved in closer to each of its subjects. We can see into people’s faces, see the aliveness in their eyes.

5FM Without 5 TVC screengrab women hip hop dancersThe end frame is the 5FM slogan and logo — “The power of 5” — with the #liveloud hashtag and an invitation to download the app. Simple. Powerful.

The message of the ad is clear — life without 5FM would be a life that is missing something. It would be just you, alone. Music adds so much to most people’s lives — hearing a song from a specific era may bring back a flood of memories, movies spend a fortune on getting just the right composer to enhance the mood — often in a way that’s not even noticed.

5FM Without 5 TVC screengrab taxi dancingIn this ad, 5FM, which targets a fairly wide set of demographics, provides something for the youthful market, rather than somebody’s conception of the youth market. The ad portrays many of the cultures and subcultures that exist in South Africa, and the director is tuned into this vibe, having directed music videos for Die Antwoord and Skrillex (together with numerous TV commercials).

5FM is a station with a long history that is knitted into our SA story. In the ’60s and ’70s, rock ’n roll and pop music was not played on the state-owned radio channels of the SABC. LM radio in Lorenco Marques, Mozambique, beamed this renegade ‘music of the devil’ into SA homes on shortwave radio.

5FM Without 5 TVC screengrab township dancingAfter the Frelimo army took over the station during the 1974 uprising, Radio 5 was launched by the SABC as a commercial station, which provided a playlist for the masses. The prurience of the era is reflected in songs that were banned internally by the public broadcaster.

The verboten list included “Take Off Your Clothes” by Peter Sarstedt, and “Sugarman” by Rodriguez (which included the words, “…silver, magic ships you carry, jumpers, coke, sweet maryjane…”). These songs were not on the playlist, because of their apparent promotion of sex and drugs. Ray Phiri had a song called “Where Did We Go Wrong” banned simply because it was a duet with a white singer, Cathy Pennington. Of course, anything with so much as a hint of political activism was definitely out!

5FM Without 5 TVC screengrab pole dancersRadio 5 was rebranded as 5FM in 1992, became a lot more progressive after democracy and now has embraced innovative approaches to technology, streaming on the internet and backs many innovative music projects, such as the Sony Xperia Mashlab project that allows fans to select musicians that they would like to see collaborate in creating music.

But back to the advert. It is a classic. It has its finger on the pulse of its audience, and can be watched over and over again… without touching the mute button.

Now that’s great TV advertising.


Oresti PatriciosAd of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research.

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