HomeBad Ass AsiansKinjaz dances their way out of a slumber

Kinjaz dances their way out of a slumber

Kinjaz

By Erin Chew

If you have been keeping up with the different commercials produced by McDonald’s in promoting their menu items, you would have noticed the trend of Asian Americans featuring in these commercials. Just in March, we interviewed K-Pop star Amber Liu about her collaboration with YouTuber Mike Bow, McDonald’s and WongFu in promoting McDonald’s menu items with theme of “for the love of bacon”, and now the next commercial is award winning dance crew “Kinjaz” promoting the breakfast menu for McDonald’s.

It is most interesting and encouraging to see McDonald’s focus in featuring Asian Americans to promote their menu items and continue the brand’s commitment to promote diversity across its marketing campaigns and reflecting the communities it operates in and serves. Kinjaz were formed in 2010 and are known for intricate choreography and creative storytelling through dance and new media. The key team behind the scenes are Jon Shih and Gerald Nonato on visuals, Kinjaz co-founder Mike Song, manager LeeJ Razalan, and producer Addy Chan on production, all Asian Americans known for their extensive contributions to dance.

In saying that, we had the opportunity to interview two important members of Kinjaz – manager LeeJ Razalan and Kinjaz co-founder Anthony Lee who features in this commercial with his other crew members – Lawrence Kao, Vinh Nguyen, JD McElroy and Justin Valles. It was an interesting interview learning about what went into preparing and choreographing the moves for the thirty second commercial as well as understand how important McDonald’s was for the both of them growing up Asian American.

LEE: I feel fortunate and honored to be part of this collaboration and it is so nostalgic considering one of the most consistent things in my life growing up was eating at McDonald’s. The process of working on this was so much fun and I can’t wait to do more things like this. In answering your question on how relevant McDonald’s was for me growing up Asian American, well I think I had this obsession that going to McDonald’s was part of the American dream myself and my migrant parents were working for.

Whenever we ate breakfast outside of the home it would always be McDonald’s and I feel it is these memories which reminds me of the hardships and the sacrifices my parents made to raise their family in America. I only had one sister and I can recall every time we were told that we would go to McDonald’s, we would literally jump for joy because eating there was a way for us to show that we fit into America and I think this is what it meant for me and us growing up Asian American.

RAZALAN: In essence I think McDonald’s speaks to everyone and is somewhat an international language. No matter where you are around the world, chances are there is a McDonald’s store, so in that sense it was such an awesome experience to be able to work with McDonald’s in promoting their “international language”. For us to be able to utilize being Asian American and humanity allows us to integrate the message about love and spread the idea McDonald’s is a common language.

For my parents, they migrated to the USA in the late 1970s and really since I was born I knew and loved McDonald’s. McDonald’s was a place my parents would take us kids to for a meal or a treat when we bought home good news and I think these type of memories which are very Asian and very American.

Kinjaz and McDonalds

A commercial is something which appears on the television or online for no more than thirty seconds to a minute. So I was curious about how Kinjaz came up with the choreographed dance moves which really captured the essence of McDonald’s breakfast menu:

LEE: This is an interesting question. I would attribute a lot of the work to the IW Group and how they initially presented this idea to us about sleeping and creating choreographed movements around this concept. It took us some time to think about how we could do this and put it altogether, and it was such an awesome experience to be given the freedom to create the language of dance around McDonald’s breakfast menu.

RAZALAN: To add on to what Anthony said, I think for the greater concept and the play on words of “waking up to breakfast”, we tried to think creatively and be out of the box. So when we were toying the idea of creating moves and choreography to symbolize the embodiment of energy, we created moves and moved around as though we were asleep – wobbling up and down. The next part was more complicated and required us to create moves to transition that we were awake but keeping the dynamics of being asleep and awake after eating McDonald’s breakfast.

Finally, I asked both Lee and Razalan whether McDonald’s breakfast menu was their favorite or do they generally prefer the after breakfast menus?

LEE: Breakfast menu all the way! I remember growing up loving the sausage and egg McMuffin and would have that everyday.

RAZALAN: Absolutely – bar none breakfast! They just have the novelty and this feeling has not changed for me from eating McDonald’s breakfast as a kid to eating it now as an adult.

Personally, I love this commercial because both Lee and Razalan are right, eating the items from the breakfast menu reminds many of us Asians and Asian Americans about our childhood memories being taken there by our parents usually for a treat.

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1 COMMENT

  1. RE: Kinjaz Dances their Way out of a Slumber: This is kind of gross. McDonalds, most people know, is super unhealthy. Sure it’s great to see a reflection of oneself in the media, but as a tool of a big unhealthy food chain? And growing up on McDonalds? Ewww. Poor kids! No one to make them a healthy breakfast at home? Sorry, but this article is unhealthy.

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