Presidents’ Day: Dancing Presidents

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They do the cabbage patch, the hustle, the shuffle and the running man.  They shake their “booties,” point their fingers and click their heels.  No, these are not your students at homecoming.   Instead, they are great bastions of American history.  Monuments across the country exalt their greatness.  The History Channel profiles their lives, and when we celebrate Presidents’ Day we hold them up as the greatest examples of what has been good, just and fair in American politics and government.

And yet, each year, both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln seem to dance their way across our TV screens in Presidents’ Day Commercials.  Why dancing?  Why horrible, horrible dancing?

It would be a grievous mistake not to profile, in brief, Presidents’ Day via popular culture this weekend.  In light of this past week’s focus on presidential speeches, it only seems fair to discuss how presidential images and patriotism are employed in advertising.

Watch if you dare, the first of our dancing presidents below.  More importantly, employ, if you dare, in your classroom these lesson plans for the coming week.

Value City Presidents’ Day Sale-“Dancing Presidents”

At 15 seconds this commercial is incredibly short. Consider having students watch and answer the questions below.

  1. What effect does a “dancing” president have on the impact of the advertisement?
  2. Discuss the commercials’ length. Why so short?  When most commercial are 30 seconds to a minute what might be the strategy in airing a commercial that is significantly shorter.
  3. Culturally, why might we see this type of commercial?  What draws us to this type of advertising?
  4. Is “appropriating” the image of a president, or any famous historical figure, appropriate for a business or company?

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