What can Dismaland teach brands?
Art, culture and brands. Now that's a difficult mix. Little wonder Banksy tapped this increased tension in the air with his Dismaland show. A pop-up art exhibition in the form of an apocalyptic theme park built inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-Super-Mare.
On one side you have the 'High Art ' establishment that sees what we do as creative and marketing professionals as selling out. On the flip side we have some brands attempting to force themselves on consumers as more than just products now days or more commonly as in-your-face curators of culture in the hope their brand’s logo-mark will be big and present on whatever platform it is featured on in the hope it shifts some units.
Historically there’s always been tension between the arts and brands of course. Just think back to artists like Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. However with the rise of digital/social and the democratising of media, the act of tapping into culture for marketing, is a real balancing act to get right.
So as the dust settles after a sell-out season, Dismaland has served its purpose no doubt for Banksy and his 58 artist friends. Never one not to seize an opportunity to poke fun at us, Banksy and crew will be enjoying all of its recent hype of course and the huge column inches in the press from this apocalyptic theme park’s short but over subscribed appearance.
Now I am not looking to give you an art review on Dismaland. There's plenty of past coverage by proper art critics for that but there's a good deal we as folks in marketing can takeaway from the recent show that twisted art culture and brands together to make a statement.
Most importantly are the principals of "authenticity" and "agendas" when one mixes art, culture and brands. Two words to reference before trying to leverage your views, likes or hits on your next brand campaign when utilising art or culture as part of a branding opportunity.
One of the things that Dismaland asks us to think about is the connection between brand and artist and evaluates the cultural agenda that's really at work. Bansky’s latest effort helps highlight that increased tension when agendas are unclear or a lack of authenticity is at play. But then again, Banksy is a brand now too so there’s a lot of parody in his parody to think about.
Unfortunately platforms like Red Bull Studios represent only a minority approach by brands but I hopefully you'll see more and more brands moving into this space and adding a real value exchange experiences for consumers going forward – rather than the traditional badging approach of the past.
With consumers being hit by over 5,000+ brand messages every day, its little wonder brands are reaching out for new vehicles to help evaluate their place in people’s hearts and minds.
In my view Dismaland can help remind us all that our audience are more switched on than ever to the role of brands playing a major role in culture in some way. But tread carefully as leveraging culture can easily back fire on you if genuineness it not always front of mind and Banksy is watching no doubt.