USC News

Menu Search
Arts

Step by step: USC Kaufman dancers appear in TV commercial airing around the world

The one-minute ad filmed at L.A. locales gives Trojans an eye-opening experience

Kaufman dancers on steps of Griffith Observatory
USC Kaufman students rehearse outside the Griffith Park Observatory. (Photo/Juan Posada Penagos)

How’s this for an “only at USC” experience? Fifteen freshman and sophomore Bachelor of Fine Arts dance students spent a day in January dancing outside the Griffith Park Observatory for a commercial that premiered on Super Bowl Sunday in key markets around the country.

The 60-second Discover Los Angeles ad, which appeared in pregame and kickoff spots in three U.S. cities, will run for 14 weeks and air during the Grammy Awards and the Academy Awards. And there will be a print campaign in the 14th Street/Union Square subway station in New York City for four weeks starting Feb. 20. There will also be digital video placements on YouTube and Hulu as well as digital and social media efforts using the ad in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and several California cities.

On Feb. 20, it will start airing in Mexico and the United Kingdom, and later this year in Australia, China and Canada.

A professional experience

USC Kaufman School of Dance students were paid for their work and experienced the hubbub surrounding a major commercial production: professional hair and makeup, grips and gaffers, studio lighting and sound.

The students’ movements were choreographed by Jodie Gates, vice dean of USC Kaufman, who was approached by the commercial’s production company in December.

“The shoot at Griffith Observatory was massive and incredibly sophisticated,” Gates said. “The lighting equipment, drones and extensive staff made for an extraordinary experience.”

Sophomore dancer Brianna Mims said: “The experience was really eye-opening, and my perception of what it’s like to do commercial work really shifted. I never understood the amount of work that goes into the one-minute commercials I see on TV until this experience.”

Mims said the opportunity was a unique one for students.

“I’m so grateful to be able to experience the professional world of dance while I am still in school,” she said.

It’s ‘Magic’

The spot, titled “Magic,” is targeted toward specific cities whose residents might visit Los Angeles, said Maggie Cadigan, the senior brand manager for Mistress, the Santa Monica-based ad agency responsible for the commercial. The Griffith Park shoot took most of a day, and shooting took place in other Los Angeles locations for two additional days.

“We drew inspiration from a lot of places,” Cadigan said. “Most of all, we drew inspiration from the feeling that the city of L.A. gives you when you’re here. It’s a magical backdrop of endless skies, urban beauty, grit and glamor that conjures feelings every bit as special and unique as the physical attractions.

“We wanted to capture the mood and the magic this city elicits so that when any person looks at the campaign, they too want to experiences ‘that L.A. feeling.’ ”

Cadigan said the student dancers did great work and are an integral part of the spot.

“We were lucky to have them participate in bringing our vision for the campaign to life,” she said.

More stories about:

Step by step: USC Kaufman dancers appear in TV commercial airing around the world

Top stories on USC News