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Adam&EveDDB Creative Creative Works

Why the V&A has repositioned its brand around niche interests


By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

March 15, 2024 | 10 min read

The museum’s marketing lead and the team at Adam&EveDDB explain how they’ve been trying to attract punks, knitters and gamers.

V&A ad inside GTA

The V&A's new brand campaign wants to inspire everyone's niche interests

The V&A in London is the world’s largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design, with a whopping 2.8m objects, but despite having so much to offer, familiarity with the brand was low, especially among 18- to 34-year-olds.

As Stuart Williams, planning director at the museum’s creative partner, Adam&EveDDB, tells us: “Only 19% would say they were familiar with the V&A. That problem was our starting place.”

Using focus groups, Williams and his team were able to determine that many folks just didn’t think that the V&A had something that would be relevant to their interests, so breaking down that barrier posed an exciting opportunity.

That message informed a new tagline, ’If you’re into it, it’s in the V&A’ – a line full of simplicity, that doesn’t rely on wordplay, isn’t trying to trick anyone and doesn’t require dissecting.

With this new brand position, the team felt they had an opportunity to engage people from all walks of life, so they chose 73 items from the vast collection, each with an unexpected twist.

“People probably associated the V&A with statues, ceramics or paintings, but it’s also Willy Wonka, Dr Martens, Star Wars and Game Boys,” says Mark Shanley, a creative director at Adam&EveDDB. “So even just this part of the campaign, these 73 posters, literally prove our statement.”

V&A punk ad

The posters Shanley is referring to are gorgeous photographs of punks in Camden, football fans heading to a match, history enthusiast role-playing battle scenes and more. To kick off the project, some of these images ran in niche magazines themed around fishing, football, music and gaming to entice more people to walk through the museum doors.

“This was just really exciting for us because I personally have never had an ad in the Angling Times,” laughs Shanley. “So, this was a first for me, maybe a first for us as an agency.”

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Next, the creatives decided to partner with unique content creators to continue to push the campaign online and to younger audiences. As they got deeper into the project, they had people create new objects that related to their hobbies. One of those passions was bookbinding, while pottery was another and there was even some knitting involved.

Most importantly, the real-world aspects of this campaign are aimed at tangibly engaging people. Many of the posters have QR codes that take you directly to the museum’s website, toward the items of interest, and the staff are all equipped to guide people through the exhibitions of interest.

“We are really lucky to have a poster holding in the tunnel as you walk up to the V&A South Kensington and we like to try and have fun with it,” explains Sophie Rouse, who is the museum’s head of integrated marketing and insight. “We had all our different objects along in the tunnel and when I walk through the tunnel, I watch people taking pictures of the ads and it’s just one of the wonderful things about the campaign.”

Ad about gaming

She adds: “I had someone talking about how they used to play Crazy Taxi as a five-year-old kid with their older sister, which is quite literally replicated in the ads that we put out. So, it’s just a wonderful medium for opening up stories.”

In the future, there might even be an exhibit dedicated to popstar Taylor Swift, given how much of a cultural phenomenon she is. Before the campaign officially launched, the V&A had put out a job ad saying it was looking for people who were experts in niche topics, one being knowledge of the singer. It blew up and landed the museum front-page coverage across the UK.

With so much of this project centered around emotion, Rousey believes that nobody else would be capable of a campaign like this. “Our competition isn’t the museum sector; it’s what people do with their free time. We want to be relevant in people’s lives.”

It’s a simple campaign that’s been brought to life in an enormous way across many different touchpoints. And it’s just the beginning. Upcoming iterations will include an online stunt in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto, a bespoke knit created by skilled artisan Onyinye Achusiogu and a London theatre seat featuring a specially engraved plaque.

Shanley concludes: “Getting to make creative things for a living is a gift. To make them for the home of creativity is a unique privilege.”

Adam&EveDDB Creative Creative Works

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