The recent video collaboration of UAE-grown boutique Bambah and Egypt-based performance art group Ballerinas of Cairo is one of the most beautiful brand collaborations I have seen in a while. Dare I say… it’s almost event art. I went there, breathe hipster community.
Bit of context – Bambah was founded in Dubai in 2015 by Egyptian-born Maha Abdul Rasheed and is the city’s first and only homegrown boutique for vintage styles. It has since quickly grown as a regional and international sweetheart for 1950’s inspired dresses and looks. Ballerinas of Cairo on the other hand is of a more urban talent variety. Founded by photographer Mohamed Taher and director Ahmed Fathy in Egypt, the duo created a performance art movement juxtaposing the graciousness of ballet and ballerinas to the unapologetic, grittier beauty of Egypt and its different cities.
Generally, I am in the firm ‘no thank you please stop’ camp when it comes to joining an underground identity to a much more refined, glitz and glam one because the latter always ends up snuffing out the vivacity and the rawness of an otherwise uncut brand. It ends up looking exactly like a niche following’s worst nightmare: a sellout.
But this collaboration, this just works because this IS Ballerinas of Cairo. Everything about this oozes with founders Taher and Fathy’s recognizable touch of creativity and artistic direction from previous videos. The out of frame shots, the quick cuts, the contrast of a beautiful, slender ballerina against the sharp hustle and bustle of the city, and the play of vivid colors in their outfits against the dimmers tones of Cairo. Even the use of an Amelie Poulain score, as in their previous content! Not that I mind because that soundtrack to me remains one of the best.
Yes, the ballerinas are – obviously – dressed in beautiful Bambah dresses but, spare the brand’s logo at the beginning of the video, that is the extent of the brand mention. No promotional information on what the dresses are, which collection from, where they’re available. They are are just there, matter-of-factly floating around the ballerinas and moving with them in beautiful pleats and floral motifs.
The boutique might not be shouting its own name or forcing its own identity everywhere but that is not to say it goes by ignored. The dresses are actually strong enough to shine on their own merit, and despite the lack of information, they make an impact. For a campaign of this style, brand recognition really would not be the primary objective – and if it is, it shouldn’t be. Elusive brand mentions and strong visuals translate more to brand awareness outreach and expansion, basically getting people to say ‘who/what is this?’. And if a person wasn’t already aware of Bambah or Ballerinas of Cairo, I’d be surprised if they didn’t search for either after the video. I, personally, did as I was not aware of the art group in Egypt.
The temptation remains to want to add a measurable metric in this clip to help quantify if it led to any tangible results for Bambah, and the beauty of this campaign is that they didn’t force adding one. Still – I would LOVE to see the boutique’s unique website visitors in the weeks following the video release, or the conversion rates on their key words.
Of course, this isn’t a one size fit all formula, and pulling off this type of campaign is no easy feat. You’d want to be extra sure the content actually generates viewer curiosity, otherwise the content will just fall through the cracks – which is thankfully not the case here as the visuals and the execution is absolutely gorgeous. In addition, a brand like Bambah can afford to partner on a campaign to expand an already impressive brand awareness, and a group like Ballerinas of Cairo already has a loyal and active social fanbase to push word of mouth marketing.
The video has gone viral locally in Egypt and is being shared, fast, on social media – already reaching nearly 435K views on Facebook and 6K interactions on Instagram in the two days since its release, organically as far as I can tell.
On a separate note from the campaign, the achievements of Ballerinas of Cairo are worth recognizing and applauding. Their aim was to break barriers between classes by making a dance typically associated to upper class communities accessible to all, while also breaking down barriers on female perception.
In 2014, 99.3% of women in Egypt were sexually harassed in one way or another according to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. That is only one woman in a 100 who was not.
So for this, absolutely stunning video of girls dancing in non conservative dresses to be gracing the Cairo’s hustle and bustle, for it to have been filmed in Egypt itself is a feat on its own – all things considered. The ballerinas are as gracious as they are brave, to perform publicly in a society where women harassment has been scarily rampant since Egypt’s political upheaval.