When brands dresses in art
Art has become an optimal instrument for brands to capture the attention of their clients, speaking in their language and thus creating a sense of complicity.
DESIGN - Feb 28, 2012
Art has always created myths and invented stories, and only recently it has approached market logic, while brands only lately have placed alongside their commercial nature, which is a creator of economic value, aspects that come close to that of a storyteller.
Historic labels of Château Mouton Rothschild that every year, since 1945, has it label designed by a different artist
Art to the service of packaging
Differently from what appearances might suggest, the cooperation between the world of art and the brand image is no longer exclusive territory of the world of luxury brands – as is evident in the example of Louis Vuitton and the Japanese artist Murakami in 2004 – but it also interests the mass market, which ever more often becomes the theatre of artistic packaging. This is the case of San Pellegrino and Evian which, every year, undersign a collaboration with a major name in the world of fashion and create a collection of limited edition bottles; but an example also is given by brands such as Compagnie de Provence which, for its twentieth anniversary, has asked the artist from Marseilles Stéphan Muntaner to celebrate the origins of the historical soap from Marseilles. Of particular interest is how Compagnie de Provence and San Pellegrino have collaborated with artists connected to their own origins – that is, Marseilles and Italy – thus in the process reinforcing these origins.
Limited editions by Compagnie de Provence, San Pellegrino with Bulgari and Evian with Andre Courrèges
The artistic pack also allows the brands to gain visibility and value, especially in a moment in which the ecological challenge brings them to reducing the packaging as much as possible, when packaging has always been their principle medium of communication.
Moreover, in these “event campaigns” that are built with the art world, an excellent opportunity is created for bringing desirability to the brand and for obtaining the interest of a consumer that has less brand loyalty than in the past.
Making art accessible to everyone
Thanks to very many brands that are now part of our daily lives, art has left the museums and has entered into our homes and onto the shelves of our stores. The public transportation service of Paris, for example, last Christmas decided to extend season’s greetings to everyone by publishing the poetry of famous French artists on its buses and other public transportation vehicles. This highlights that “consumer brands” are not the only ones to be interested in the world of art as an element of communication.
This past Christmas again was the turn of the New York department store Barneys, which invited Lady Gaga to give life to a spectacular store pop-up on the fifth floor of the department store, where the singer’s fans could purchase unique items, from fashion to pastries, created by the star herself and her creative team.
Lady Gaga at Barneys, last Christmas in New York
Every month Dudes Factory Shop in Berlin invites an artist or a designer to create the interior design of the store and its product line: it is certainly a striking way to stupefy the clients, to renew the store’s image and to discover new talent.
However, the democratisation of art is becoming more widespread also thanks to prices and distribution, also because there are always some new ideas that make art more accessible, not only “geographically” but also in economic terms. This is the case of the Lumas photograph galleries, which in Europe and the USA publish and sell limited edition and numbered photographs, with prices that are definitely accessible, promoting and bringing fame to young artists and photographers. Another example is that of the Frère Indépendant association, which proposes works of underground artists, exhibited at the Pool Art Fair or, more surprisingly, in the rooms of some New York hotels.
Giving greater value to amateur artists
There are many brands that serve as modern patrons of the arts, such as for example Fondazione Prada or Fondazione Trussardi, even if often they are concentrated on their own community of fans, so that the value that they offer to the amateur artists is increased whenever the number of single collaborations with young artists that they promote is greater.
But since these collaborations always generate greater sharing and therefore enhance the visibility and the impact of those who promote them, today brands encourage their clients to participate in creative processes, thus rendering them not merely passive clients but making them part of a cultural scene. Let’s take for example Brisk, iced tea with the PepsiCo brand, which on occasion of the SXSW Festival made a partnership with the application of Instagram photo sharing. The users of Instagram were invited to send their photos with the hashtag #briskpic for the prize of decorating a limited edition of 4,000 cans.
Winners of the #briskpic contest
Brands are always more interested in young artists: for the former there is the great opportunity of renovation for the brand, for the latter there is the possibility of putting themselves on exhibit with great visibility. Virgin, for example, had created the Virgin Media Shorts competition in order to discover and award the best amateur director short films, and the H&M Design Awards has just finished its first edition, which in the sphere of Stockholm’s Fashion Week has proclaimed the winner Stine Riis, a graduate from the London College of Fashion, who created a collection that will be sold in some H&M outlets, and which will guarantee her global visibility (as well as a 50,000 Euros prize!).
The collection by Stine Riis, winner of H&M Design Awards
Art is therefore an optimal instrument for brands to capture the attention of their clients, speaking in their language and thus creating a sense of complicity. The investments in this sector increase, up to the point of organising artistic events in an inviting and not overly branded way, such as how British Telecom has done, when they were the sponsors of the BT River of Music, a music festival that runs along the banks of the Thames the week before the Olympic Games of 2012.
This new manner of creating a story around a brand allows the involvement of the consumers in a greater way, as long as these campaigns bring value to the brand and to the users and on the condition that they are not purely gratuitous.