Marketing imitates art. Badly.

First, let it be said that I am a big fan of M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village and so on). I was however very disappointed by the Australian digital promotion for his latest film, ‘The Happening’. You can check it out at the website or on YouTube.

Credit where credit is due, it’s great to see the promoters doing something for the Australian market beyond simply changing each ‘z’ in their film website to an ‘s’. However, what they decided to do was to create a Flash Mob ‘happening’ in Pitt Street Mall and film the crowd response. Again, I can definitely see the connection to the film. My only issue is this…

Compare their promotion to the ‘Frozen in NYC Central Station’ performance art piece that has been making the rounds (and currently has twelve million views on YouTube). They are practically identical, with two important differences. One was original and one was not. And one is more engaging than the other in pretty much every way. If you haven’t seen them both, I’ll let you have a look and decide which is which.

I love the appropriation of culture (and art specifically) into marketing. And I love the co-opting of marketing and advertising for artistic purposes. The mingling of discourses challenges and enriches both sides of the fence. What is disappointing to see is the wholesale copy of art into marketing with no attempt to add anything – and usually a dilution of the power and engagement of the idea. In an world when avant garde art was retricted to uber-trendy art factories on the lower east side, you could safely bet that most of your customers hadn’t seen the works that your marketing was riffing (or ripping) off. In a world of YouTube and Google, you no longer have that luxury.

Let’s bring more from art to marketing that a carbon copy (apologies to Warhol, crown price of carbon copying). Let’s bring the creativity, the passion, the lack of restraint. Now that sounds like fun! – brett

[This entry is cross-posted on the Naked Communications Australia blog.]

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