Art and branding both play a role in storytelling. If the first creates myths and the second creates value, it is not surprising to see them join forces to strengthen the expressivity of a brand. Here is an overview of some of the most inspiring collaborations.
art serving packaging
If it seems that collaborations between artists and brands are the preserve of luxury brands – such as Louis Vuitton and Japanese artist Takashi Murakami in 2004 – the mass market has began using ‘art packaging’ too. This is notably the case of Evian, which each year partners with a big name from the fashion industry to create its limited edition bottles, or Compagnie de Provence, which for its 20th anniversary, commissioned the Marseille designer Stéphan Muntaner, to celebrate the origins of the Marseille soap brand.
Art packaging allows brands to regain meaning and visibility, as they face a real ecological challenge forcing them to significantly reduce their packaging, which is their primary showcase. These ‘event creating’ campaigns are also an excellent opportunity to re-create desirability and thus strengthen preference in the eyes of nomadic consumers.
making art accessible to all
Thanks to brands that are part of our culture, art has left the museums and entered the street, the shop shelves, our homes, etc. The RATP (the Parisian local train network) chose to wish a Happy New Year 2012 to its customers by posting poems by famous authors in the Parisian metro.
Consumer brands are not the only ones interested in using artists, retail stores are too. At Christmas, Barneys department store invited Lady Gaga to take the reins of a spectacular pop-up store on the 5th floor of the department store, where fans of the singer could find unique items, ranging from fashion to confectionery, created by ‘Mother Monster’ and the Haus of Gaga creative team.
Each month, the Dudes Factory shop in Berlin invites an artist or designer to redesign the shop and its range of products, a great way for the store to surprise customers, renew itself and also discover new talent... But the democratization of art also takes place through distribution and pricing, and there are emerging concepts that make art more accessible, either financially or physically. This is the case for the network of Yellow Korner photographic galleries in Paris, which publishes and distributes limited and numbered editions, framed or mounted, by established and promising artists from €20 to €2,000. The Frère Indépendant association offers works by underground artists, exhibited at the Pool Art Fair, or, more surprisingly, in hotel rooms in New York.
giving the amateur artist more value
Patron brands are numerous and include for example L'Espace Pierre Cardin and the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art. However, they focus more and more on their community of fans and give more value to amateur artists through unique partnerships with young artists, creativity being all the more stronger when such initatives are numerous. As such collaborations also generate more sharing and thus more visibility and impact, brands now encourage their customers to participate in the creative process, thus making them not only commercial players but also real contributors to the cultural scene. Take for example Brisk iced tea, a PepsiCo brand, which partnered with the photo sharing application Instagram for the SXSW festival. Users were invited to send their pictures with the hashtag #briskpic to decorate 4,000 limited edition cans.
Brands are also more and more interested in young artists, who represent an opportunity for them to renew themselves in an engaging way, while also being a showcase for the artists themselves. This was the case for Virgin which rewarded amateur filmmakers in the Media Shorts Festival, or H&M, which launched the first Design Awards in February 2012 as part of the Stockholm Fashion Week. The winner, Stine Riis, a graduate of the London College of Fashion, will have her collection sold in selected H&M stores, gaining recognition throughout the world while winning a €50,000 prize.
Art is therefore a great way for brands to engage with jaded consumers, speaking their own language, thereby creating complicity. They invest more and more in this area, to the point of organising artistic events in an engaging and subtle way, such as BT, which will launch BT River of Music, a music festival on the banks of the Thames during the 2012 Olympic Games. This new form of storytelling allows brands to engage with their consumers, provided that these campaigns bring more meaning to the brand and are not purely gratuitous.
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