Entertainment > Talent




Gold Cannes Lions
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Breaking Ballet is an ongoing series of bite-size ballets inspired by the biggest stories online. These take the form of short films, which are seeded straight back into trending conversations on social media.

The entire process – from identifying the trigger, to briefing the dancers, to producing the film and seeding it back into the conversation – takes 3 to 5 days. This ensures that the stories are still highly relevant when the films are launched.


Ordinarily a ballet production involves many months of conceptualisation, choreography and rehearsals. The most exciting thing for all parties involved in this series of ballets, from the dancers to the audience, has been not knowing what story is coming next.

The campaign is 100% shaped by real-time data mined from social media. This is then artistically reinterpreted as a brand new ballet. This data also shapes the short film, in terms of the mood, location, cinematography and art direction.

The series has responded to a range of topics, from social issues like gun control, LGBTQI rights in Africa, women abuse and the Cape Town Drought, to sport, to blockbuster films like Black Panther.


By feeding highly relevant stories straight back into trending conversations, the campaign has earned a lot of success. Ballet and Joburg Ballet in particular are being spoken about in places they never dreamed of. Important stats include:

560% ROI in earned media

24 million media impressions

91% engagement rate

39% increase in social media followers

Ticket sales are at an all-time high and climbing show on show


Young, black South Africans weren’t coming to the ballet to be entertained. So we created entertainment specifically for them, and placed it where they already were: the biggest trending conversations on social media.

By infiltrating popular culture, Joburg ballet became part of popular culture. They are being spoken about in conversations they never previously dreamed of. They have attracted a brand new audience, by taking ballet where it has never been before.


South African millennials weren’t coming to the ballet. This meant we’d have to take ballet to them. Joburg Ballet has a very small annual marketing budget, so from the outset we needed a strategy that would result in maximum share-ability and earned media.

Our audience is bombarded by content on a daily basis. This has bred a culture of instant gratification. By tracking trends across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we were able to identify triggers most relevant to our intended audience – black South African millennials, and then respond quickly with relevant stories. When it came to seeding the films, we tracked how the stories had evolved, which influenced how we tagged them and the micro-influencers that we used.


Joburg Ballet knows that in order to sell more tickets, it needs to appeal to a younger, more diverse audience. Despite the fact that the company has incorporated more contemporary, African-inspired works into their repertoire, most millennials still think of ballet as a stale, old-fashioned dance form.

Joburg Ballet approached us to help change this perception and encourage young South Africans to consider ballet as a viable form of entertainment. We thus needed to demonstrate that ballet can tell stories about anything, that it can be contemporary and relevant, and that it is certainly no boring relic of the past.

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