Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rants From the Right Side - Guest- Miss Y on Street Art

When you work in advertising you’re always on the lookout for what’s cool, for rising subcultures and trends, etc... anything that you feel will help in breaking out of classic advertising (like TV, radio and print). Anything that will reach target audiences faster and with more impact than what they’ve grown used to (and bored of).

Inspiration comes from the street. Not surprisingly... this has become commonplace: you see classic dance mixed up with some hip hop moves picked up from the ‘streets’ and bang! it’s born again as contemporary dance... you see fashion on the runway inspired by fashion from the subway. Seems like the advertising industry has seen street artists gaining popularity and is attracted to the fact that this activist art form is on the street, it’s surprising, it’s in your face and can stop you in your tracks. So bang! guerrilla advertising is gaining even more popularity... advertising has moved into the street artists’ territory. Which is not something that is going to be accepted very easily I think... Advertising is like the antithesis of street art. Most of this art is actually ad busting, culture jamming, anti-brands, trying to take the street back from corporations and their advertisers...

So we’re in the middle of this now, what will the street artists do (given that their art is based fundamentally on reacting and causing reaction)? What’s happened so far is that some have actually been hired on a freelance basis by advertising agencies or corporations to bring brands back into cool, back into the streets. Others, fuelled by the ‘invasion’ have stuck to their message as artists and even stepped up their activism.

As with any other channel of communication, I’m sure guerilla advertising will be used and abused. The only difference here (as opposed to television and other media) is that nobody can really own the streets so it’ll be interesting to watch the reaction to this tug-of-war.

Check out Wooster Collective for street art from around the world.


Anonymous GB said...

Interesting post Y, I think a good case illustrating this is Banksy, London’s most notorious culture jammer and corporate buster…Bansky built his rep on antiestablishment and anti branding now has a collection of posters on sale on Hmmmm…yup if you can’t beat it buy it.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous technorat said...

I think the commoditization of street culture spans way back, corporations has stolen cleaned up and resold street culture to the masses for decades now. No example hold truer than the complete branding of Afro-American street culture, sports apparel etc….

3:56 PM  
Blogger Stan Lee said...

Advertising doesn't feed into the culture, it feeds off it....Hell most of the time anyway.

4:03 PM  
Anonymous The the said...

I wouldn't completely agree with that theory... I think culture in general is formulated from a number of different constructs, media being one of them and a subset of that being advertising...I do see your point in reference to most advertising being influenced by culture, but there are cases where the opposite has happened, from simple slogans permeating everyday life like 'got milk' to a logo of a striding man influencing the way people dunk a basketball.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Incognito said...

" see fashion on the runway inspired by fashion from the subway"

Brilliant line Y. I'm definitely using that one in meetings if you don't mind.

I agree a lot with 'the the's point of view. advertising and culture/society are mirrors of eachother.

As for the concrete jungle where it is deemed there are no corporations welcomed - there have been plenty of brands that have made it out on the streets.

Reebok's recently revamped campaign (in recent years that is) of 'I am what I am' a great example - with spokespeople full of street cred ranging from Eminem and 50 cent, to Pharell, Allen Iverson, Crosby and even that wicked dude in a wheelchair from Monsterball.

And1 Basketball is another brand that comes to mind that was built solely on the streets with its notorious And1 Mixtapes.

the iPod and it's iconic brightly colored dance visuals you can easily picture as street grafitti.

Several brands in the past have made their ways into our jokes and everyday lexicon 'priceless', 'the axe effect' and 'got milk' are great examples.

What it all comes down to is does your brand have the values of the streets in it? Does it have street cred?

It would be interesting to see if some brands that have a touch of anti-establishment in them (Virgin, Playstation, XBox, and a few others) will soon make the jump into the streets....or if you want to argue that's inevitable, I'd like to see how they do it and how it would be accepted.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous AA said...

I think spirte have done quite a bit in the US on the streets...from hosting ball competitions to freestyle battle concerts etc...

2:48 PM  

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