Can This Ridiculously Joyful Ad Lighten the Mood in Washington, D.C.?

Design Army tries its best for CityCenterDC

Headshot of Tim Nudd

It’s no secret that Washington, D.C., has become a bit of a grim place for many since the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency. Can a fun, kooky and colorful ad—featuring dancers from the Washington Ballet—help make the city a bit happier again?

Design Army hopes so, as it releases “The District of Joy,” a campaign for the new shopping district CityCenterDC, featuring a centerpiece film that the agency describes as “a two-minute romp … like a West Side Story + Austin Powers + 1960s fashion glam mashup.”

The film stars dancers from the Washington Ballet, which is another Design Army client, and the dancing was choreographed by Septime Webre, the former longtime artistic director of the ballet.

“Crazy color meets kooky hairstyles that mimic designer shoes and ridiculously long noodles; giant balloons have sexy legs; and 13-layer sherbet ice cream cones exist in this fantastical world,” the agency says, adding: “And there’s nothing conservative about it!”

Check out the film here:

Adweek spoke to Pum Lefebure, chief creative officer at Design Army, about her latest eye-catching creation.

Tell us about some of your favorite design touches in this fantastical world, and how it all came together.
A few of the details that I loved: the 13-layer, giant ice-cream cones; the huge balloon costume; and the quick-cut of George Washington riding the bike. But if I had to pick one detail, it’s the wardrobe. The bright colors of the dancers and curated pops of colors make it a technicolor world.

With the Washington Ballet and Septime Webre involved, it seems like a great union of Design Army clients. Was it a natural fit?
The fit was like a glove! The Washington Ballet was one of Design Army’s first-ever clients, and Septime has become a great friend. When we hatched the concept, Septime was our first call. He was just as excited—if not more—than we were, as he had free reign to choreograph, blending classical and modern, with his own unique twist.

The vibe must be pretty weird in Washington these days. Can an ad like this help lift the mood?
Washington, D.C., is seeing it’s share of political weirdness these days, for sure. But the creative vibe in D.C. has never been stronger. We’ve seen the city’s creativity expand and spread all over—not just in design, but in everyday D.C. culture. The arts and restaurant scene is super hot; architecture and public art/spaces are finally getting with the program; and there’s more collaboration between these sectors that makes for a surprise every time you venture into the city. So, while The White House has been “interesting” recently, it does put the world’s eyes on D.C. more so than ever. Hopefully, this campaign will open those eyes a bit wider.

Check out the print work from the campaign below.

Client: CityCenterDC
CityCenterDC General Manager: Timothy R Lowery
CityCenterDC Director of Marketing: Whitney Bossin Burns
Marketing Assistant : Cristian Becker

Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Design Army: Pum Lefebure
CEO, Design Army: Jake Lefebure
Art Director, Design Army: Heloise Condroyer
Art Director, Design Army: Sucha Becky
Managing Director: Ann Vogel
Production Manager, Design Army: Olivia Prinzi
Production Manager, Design Army: Svenja Herrmann
BTS Photogrpahy, Design Army: Diego Jimenez
Designer, Design Army: Rebecca Matt
Designer, Design Army: Ryan Haskins
Copywriter: Mark Welsh

Director/ DP: Dean Alexander
1st AC/2nd Camera Operator : Jonny Meyer
2nd AC: John Vallon
2nd AC: Nate Spivey
Producer: May Tam
Editor: David Grossbach
Runner/ Still Camera Assist: Erin Winebrenner
Still Camera Assist: Andrew Nagl
Location Manager: Chan Claggett
Script Supervisor: Jan Sanders
Gaffer : Mark Hutchings
Key Grip: Edward Hohman
Best Boy Electric: Scott Perryman
Generator Operator: Ryan Gallo
Best Boy Grip: Brian Mattes
Dolly Grip: Joe Kurtz
Grip: Joe Wilkowski
Grip: Tim Siford
BTS Video: Dan St.Ours
PA1: Ian Coblyn
PA2: Justin Johnson
Crane Operator: Randy Greer
Crane Operator: David Walker
Colorgrade and CGI: CVLT, New York
Sound Design: Nylon Studios, Sydney
Music Supervision: Good Ear Music Supervision
Stylist: Christine De Lasus
Stylist Assistant: Flora Zouto
Stylist Assistant: Pedro Rodrigo Gonzalez
Makeup Stylist: Dale Johnson
Make Up Stylist Assistant: Sarah Fiorelle
Hair Stylist: Yoichi Tomizawa
Hair Stylist Assistant: Hideaki Suzuki
Nail Stylist: Pasqua Kramer
Seamstress: Brandee Mathies
Props: Amaryllis, Christopher Vasquez
Special Effects: Doug Retzler and Hank Atterbury
Florals: Sidra Forman
Video Wall Tech: Alex Tejada
Craft Services: Design Cuisine

Septime Webre

Daniel Roberge
Luis Torres
Jonathan Jordan
Corey Landolt
Gian Carlo Perez
Samuel Wilson
Oscar Sanchez
Olivia Lipnick
Francesca Dugarte
Brittany Stone
Esmiana Jani
Leah Morris
Abigail Granlund
Brittany Cavaco
Samara Rettinger
Lucy Nevin
Natsumi Oohata
Andrea Allmon
Peyton Anderson
Rowan Young
Chiara Valle
Giselle MacDonald
Landry Ridener
Nicholas Cowden
Gilles Delellio
Hayden Slaff
Wojciech Ogloza
Alexandros Papajohn
Randy Oneill
Luccia Wolfe
Alysia Beckford
Charleigh Bullock
Ian McPherson
Maddie Spangler
Benteley Mescall
Jon Liu
Alexa Yudina
Kenneth Lyons
Carmen Salta
T.H.E Artist Agency: Sondra Hoffman
Modelogic : Stacie Vanchieri
Fenton: Yeseul Hwang
MUSE: Connor Kennedy

Kate Warren
Desiree Venn Frederic
Monling Lee
Nick Elefante
Andre Wells
Leah Bielhart
Jenny Wu
Antonio Mostajo
Twuan Samuel
Tasha James
Neema Rowe
Jeri Ann Freirich
Scott Layton
Reginald Sharpe
Allie Enck
Toni Biafore
Eli Rudy
Violetta Markelou
Tara Papanicolas
Atara Bernstein
Anchyi Adorned
Gregory Fisk
Sophie Pyle
Lauren Joseph
Katalina Mayorga
Nate Hopp
David Martin
Nate Hopp
Ken Oreagen (George Washington Mascot)
Luna Lefebure (Puppy)
Jeff Pulford (Jaguar Owner)

Fig & Olive
Morgenthal Frederics
Paul Stuart
The Washington Ballet

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.