5 Works of Art Every Marketer Should Learn From

Art imitates mankind’s reality, always perceived from different perspectives. Here are 5 lessons that all marketers should learn from it.

Base Your Campaign on a Solid Concept

The artwork: I Shop Therefore I Am, Barbara Kruger (1990).

The lesson: Barbara Kruger forces you to think about consumerism, inspired by the mistaken idea that people are defined by what they own.

The original phrase by René Descartes is “I think, therefore I am”, implying that the realization of one’s own conscious validates one’s own existence. Kruger’s work of art criticizes the idea that it is our purchasing power what validates our existence today (before us, before society and before chain stores).

This deep message is encapsulated in a simple phrase superimposed on a photograph.

So too, must the diligent marketer identify the message their audience needs to understand, and synthesize the marketing speech into a central, solid concept.

The example: Defeating Goliath Was a Matter of Strategy, 32MKT (2016).

CIG Consultants is a boutique firm offering consulting services, developing fiscal and corporate strategies for their clients. The goal of the “David VS Goliath” campaign was to attract business leads to show up at a networking mixer. The concept of the advertising campaign puts CIG Consultants’ client in the shoes of David, whereas Goliath represents the gigantic problems he faces. The role of CIG Consultants? To advise David on how to defeat Goliath.

Focus on Your Client, Not Yourself

The artwork: Die, Tony Smith (1962).

The lesson: This sculpture raises more questions than it answers, inviting the viewer to question the meaning of the work of art by seeing it from literally different perspectives. This piece invites the viewer to take the lead role above the artist. What does this gigantic, numberless die mean? Is it the randomness of death? Is it the 6 feet under, where the dead are buried? The answer depends exclusively on the viewer.

The example: In the End, Only the Looks Change, 32MKT (2016)When we redesigned the corporate image and packaging of Productos Rosarito, we went directly to the housewives who for more than 60 years have consumed their deli products. Through focus groups we learned what families look for in flavor, quality and tradition throughout different generations. Listening to the consumer, we realized that the appearance of the brand may change but its quality remains a solid promise.

Your Audience Needs Eye Candy

The artwork: Bières de la Meuse, Alfons Mucha (1897).

The lesson: Mucha was commissioned to design this advertising poster that today, due to its detailed and impressive aesthetic quality, is still admired as art. Although you should not forget the main objective of a marketer is NOT TO MAKE ART but to generate prospects that become customers.

The example: Coke Happiness Factory, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam (2006).

This Coca-Cola commercial fulfills the objective of maintaining awareness of the product it advertises and its attributes but it goes even further by creating a memorable and attractive visual sequence.

Use the Environment in Your Favor

The artwork: Spy Booth, Banksy (2013).

The lesson: Street artist Banksy makes use of what the streets, sidewalks and walls offer as a canvas for his creations. The nature of his art is ephemeral but it has a high impact since it is impossible not to run into one of his pieces out in the open or through the media coverage they usually receive.

The example: McFries Pedestrian Crossing, TBWA Suiza (2010).

In this stereotypical case of guerrilla marketing, McDonald’s took advantage of the yellow lines at the pedestrian crossing in front of one of its locations and creatively added the graphic of a box French fries to give it a completely different meaning at a low cost with high visibility.

Find a Way to Stand Out from the Heap

The artwork: To Make a Dadaist Poem, Tristan Tzara.

The lesson: Under the concept of anti-art, the Dadaist movement rebelled against the artistic establishment, drawing attention by going against the current. One of the Tzara’s contributions to poetry was the following series of instructions to make a random poem:

“Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are–an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.”

The example: The Uncola, JWT.

Instead of trying to make their own version of a cola to compete with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, what 7UP did was focus on distinguishing themselves from everything that a cola represents.