With funding for the public access to art being spotty at best, brands and businesses have an opportunity (or responsibility) like never before to enrich the community through arts and cultural engagements. If done right, it can have huge resonance by tying the installations, executions and offerings to the theme or narrative of their product or business. Often, the simple route of attaching the corporation as a sponsor is undertaken with questionable results. Not to say that those opportunities should go away – they are incredibly important for the arts and education – but there are simple ways to dip the proverbial feet deeper in the water to make an even more organic and valuable connection with the community.
While most of the public focus on the Olympics is centered on sports, there is a hugely beneficial by-product of the international gathering – the arts. London 2012 just released their 2012 Festival schedule and limited posters and both convey how much impact this sponsorship of the arts the institution of the Olympics can have on bringing established and new cultural forms to the forefront. Certainly, this Cultural Olympiad festival is not new – the Olympics actually had arts in competition (winning medals) through most of the first half of the 20th Century. Since then, the cultural aspect has varied in scale and scope depending on location and timing. Ultimately, the opportunity to present exhilarating presentations have introduced many artists, performers and organizations to a larger audience. In the case of the Cultural Olympiad, numerous companies have taken the opportunity to sponsor the events in order to bring the arts to the people. If anything, the IOC and host countries could stand to make even more noise about this partnership with the arts via recordings for online posting and other distribution.
But as stated above, sponsorship is not the only form of engagement in the arts. One strategic partnership of note through the past 5+ years is Scion and street art. In their quest to engage with the target of young, urban consumers, they forged an alliance with street artists and illustrators, completing numerous art tours where their cars were the “vehicle” of the art and not just a product with art being done around it. What started as a series of touring art shows has led to an arts and lifestyle platform that is symbiotic with their brand as seen in their Scion AV site and their permanent gallery location in Culver City, CA.
Numerous other brands have forged a relationship with artists where the program seemed a bit too commercial. Maybe it generated a blip in the buzz category or provided an opportunity for a bigger-bang announcement. In many situations, they happen and are quickly gone after selling some art. Because of that, it is worthwhile to engage consumers in ways that only public art can – with community being the core and not necessarily consumerism. One recent campaign that stands out is a program Post-It pulled off in Brazil a few months ago.
Other than the beauty of this interactive installation, the execution provided an excess of collateral content that helped bridge the emotional connection. Of course, the animation created by changing Post-Its in a stop-motion technique is brilliant, but the video capture of people interacting – especially the older man and child – is priceless. It truly conveys what Post-It is about – whether you have one pad or a million…
In this time of limited funding for the arts, there are immense benefits to corporations in forging substantial engagement in the arts. The cost is comparably low, the community is looking for experiences like this, and the opportunity to leverage the residual content and goodwill for long-lasting emotional connections between the brand and the people is immeasurable. Unfortunately, this may be the only way to keep the arts relevant for everyone and not just the chosen few as we move into the future. With proper mechanics and thoughtful execution, businesses can be the new iteration of arts patrons – connecting new artists and fans – while driving toward the ultimate goal of emotional engagement with consumers.