Brands associate themselves more and more with the art world. We can see here a biased effect, which is the use of the power of creativity in a commercial manner, alongside the dimension of art being merchandise as well. Who is to blame in this game? Both parts I would say as marketing and communication and art have been surely attracted to each other since a few decades now.
We will agree that this is always de bon ton to criticize the brands to have compromised the art world. The products always need to perceive as special or unique to have a right of existing in the eyes of the consumers. And the need to make the people forget or escape this industrial background pushed the brands to associate themselves with true creators and agents of imagination and thought.
We can observe this visceral need to get closer to the artists in the luxury industry. When the ultimate luxury was to create a product for somebody or for a reduced hand of consumers, the brands or the craftsmen did not have the need to overlay the perception of their creation with a halo of art. The product was unique; the prototype was aimed to satisfy a specific person. The luxury market was specific in its own foundation. But the mass approach of the markets pushed the brands to reconsider their link to the consumers and started to work with artists to give back some sense and nurture their loss myth to the world of creation Overall, the industrial background and the evolution of the markets pushed the brands to find the magic and the relevance they lost. The search for sense got so strong in the consumers’ eyes that you had to find it in the creation of people outside the marketing world. As long as we love the campaigns of Absolut Vodka (art is in the foundation of the brand expression) or Diageo (using some codes and memory structures), we have to admit that a lot of brands are leveraging their products in a very superficial or, even, inadequate way by using some art references that are very far away from their strategy or even their DNA. It radicalises our rejection of marketing recipes. Examples are numerous…
But the artists can’t be taken as fully innocent in this connection with the brands. We can obviously talk about Marcel Duchamp who put the industrial object at the level of an art piece. And we think immediately about Andy Warhol who placed art in an industrial logic of reproduction and sales. The art business is vibrant, yes, this is a business. We talk about investment, long-term profit; we follow the market and the quotes of the artists. We understand that Art Basel is a fair and the visitors are making investments. And the artists are not the last ones to collaborate with interest to the brands presence – packaging, murals, visual expression…there is no boundaries when it’s about showing your talent to a maximum of people, therefore, to monetise your vision of the world to the maximum of people. We can’t blame that. Since centuries, artists were looking for sponsors and influential people to achieve their vision and express their creativity. Brands just replaced the kings in our society.
The collaborations between artists and brands seem to be double-bind, a dialectic of sacred and subversion, of attraction and repulsion. Art and marketing hate each other but the colliding effect is inevitable. We can always think about Andy Warhol’s disturbing prophecy ‘When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums’. But then, like all the relationships, decency and respect is the only way to assure success and happiness. And full understanding overall.