H&M ‘Spring collection 2018’ / Adam&Eve/DDB
There’s no denying it: H&M’s latest spot is cool. This is actually a very difficult thing to achieve, as more often than not, advertisers who try to present themselves as down-to-earth sound more like your maths teacher telling you they’re ‘down with the kids’ than anyone you’d actually want to hang out with. But this ad is self-assured enough to look effortless. It’s not a request to be part of the in-crowd – it’s a statement to say H&M is already in.
All of us are excited at the prospect of warmer weather, especially after several snowy days in March, and the format of the ad represents this perfectly. It opens with a man and woman – the latter dead behind the eyes with boredom – practicing what’s supposed to be a passionate dance routine. Someone taps her partner on the shoulder and offers to take over. Another woman takes her hand and spins her into a bright, fast-moving, impromptu street dance.
The dreary feeling of cold, dark wintry months is pushed completely aside for the energy and vibrancy of spring; the dancers literally pop out of the screen, weaving in and out of the black letter-box framing. You can almost feel the sunshine just watching this ad.
The all-women dance cast taking over from a lacklustre man is a subtle nod to the changing consciousness of young women, who are growing bolder as they take to the streets in powerful movements like #MeToo, and more recently #IBelieveHer in Ireland. H&M isn’t trying to position itself as feminist but it has nonetheless successfully evoked the feeling of young women doing things for themselves, by themselves. The women create a literal earthquake as they dance past three old men sat round a game of chess, glancing out the window with confusion and concern. Two elderly ladies watching from a balcony nod along to the upbeat music which powers the dance routine.
Brands – and agencies – trying to go too far in making themselves ‘current’ can backfire. We saw this recently when JWT’s 45% gender pay gap was revealed, raising some eyebrows about the ‘F the gender pay gap’ campaign rolled out by the agency last year. H&M has stopped just short of that in this spot. Winona Ryder’s cameo at the end, looking stylish and classy as ever as she takes the arm of another dancer with a wry smile, confirms that it isn’t taking itself too seriously here.
It also reminds viewers that being independent-minded isn’t always political. Style is a huge part of self-expression – it’s the first thing to make you stand out from the crowd – and something young women are also growing bolder with. H&M has seamlessly merged its recognisable style with the latest trends in high-street fashion for its spring collection, which features throughout the ad, showcasing the retail giant as an affordable option for shoppers who want to play around with their wardrobe. H&M is sure to be a go-to destination this year.