Art With a (Marketing) Message
- December 21st, 2005
- 0 Comments
I posted recently about Sony’s attempt to market its PSP using graffiti and the resulting backlash. Yesterday I received an email from an organization called AM Radio (AM stands for Artwork Mbliashaka), an artist collective made up of Aniekan, Per-A Jahlion, PJ Herring, Wes Clark, BUCK! and DJ Two-Tone Jones. I thought their work seemed strangely familiar and then realized that Current TV (where I work) used them at our Take Back TV concerts. Basically they were on stage painting while bands and videos played and various people spoke about Current. They have been used by Toyota Scion as well. The idea is that by having artists with credibility inside of hip hop culture do “live art” at your event, your brand gains credibility with that audience.
They sent me the photo (featured above) from another event they did for Adidas in November along with a press release. From the release:
“The Adidas Originals store in Georgetown commemorated the debut of Ali by Adidas, the new fashion collection developed in collaboration with one of sports ultimate legends, Muhammad Ali. ...The store became a live expression of music, colors, and creativity that represents the brand’s new Ali Collection.
The collective works in melodic harmony to the bass, beat and funk created by the intense vibe of the crew’s DJ: DJ Two-Tone Jones. They use the environment and an African aesthetic inspiration to create masterpieces on a 7x5 canvas in front of a live audience.”
I asked these guys what their take is on using street art or graffiti or any other format beloved by a certain culture and using it for marketing purposes. Here’s what Gerald Watson, AM Radio’s director of marketing, wrote:
“The best way is to create work and use subject matter that’s organic to your consumer. Our target demographic is savvy and intelligent and can see through what I like to call “fast-food or force-fed media tactics.” It doesn’t matter if you’re Sony or Def Jam, if you create a campaign that makes your consumer feel stupid and uneducated you’ll lose because there’s no trust.”
Update: Gerald expanded on his comment via email: “You can use graffiti but you’ve got do your research and understand why people gravitate to it, who the influential writers are, know your history and understand the art form in general. Develop a concept that shows your passion and or has a continuity element to it.
That’s why people have such a big problem with corporate in the first place. You can’t just have b-boys or a general hip-hop element in a commercial, air it on bet or mtv and think the consumer is stupid enough to want your product. Selling and marketing isnt that simple anymore.”
Maybe it was the image Sony used in its graffiti that insulted its audience. Not sure. I kind of think any graffiti clearly identified as Sony might have gotten a similar reaction. What do you think?