Let me set the stage: last week during a drive to a client meeting in the suburbs of Chicago, I noticed my co-pilot (AKA Bonnie Culhane) snapping pics of billboards along the interstate as if they were on the hunt for something. Before I could even ask their reasoning, they mentioned they are always on the look out for brands that could use the help of a talented marketing team **cough cough** BatesMeron
Fast forward 24 hours, during a leisurely walk on my break at work I noticed an amazing piece of art on the wall behind our building in the South Loop at 916 S. Wabash. In big, bold letters, standing over 40 feet tall, I read “OBEY AUDIO WE OWN THE FUTURE.”
I instantly was on my phone googling “Obey Audio Chicago” and quickly went down a rabbit hole to find out what this masterpiece was, who the artists were, why was it painted, what was the reason, etc. (For anyone else interested, here is a link that will give you the gist). After making my way back to the office, I realized a painting on a wall had me engulfed for about 20-30 minutes. I asked myself, “when was the last time I went extra lengths to Google a billboard I saw?”
Thus, we have arrived at the point of all my rambling: the growing use of street art in marketing and advertising. This kind of advertising isn’t necessarily brand new or revolutionary, but it’s definitely a great way for a company to set themselves apart from competitors, especially in bigger cities where people tend to walk around a lot more.
(Sofitel Chicago Gold Coast; Photo Credit: Artist Replete; Mural Credit: Rawooh)
(Converse; Photo Credit: Widewalls; Mural Credit: Josh Row)
A beautiful mural on the side of a building isn’t inherently seen as advertising like a post on social media, a tv commercial or even a billboard. It is seen as art first. It’s eye-catching and attention-grabbing. According to Louise Stubbings, creative director at advertising agency Clear Channel U.K., a unit of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc., “digital is becoming business as usual, because it’s prolific, because it’s everywhere”. This means that if you are looking to make an impact or gain attention, it is time to zig while everyone else is zagging. This is a chance to reach people on an artistic level, creating instant memories for passersby, often unexpectedly. As soon as scaffolds, barricades and the first few cans of paint get added to a wall, people in the area instantly become spectators, engaging throughout the project.
(XBOX; Photo Credit: basa studios; Mural Credit: Jason Parker)
(Converse; Photo Credit: Widewalls; Mural Credit: Buff Monster)
What other form of advertising draws that amount of attention? David Speed, a director at Shoreditch-based street art collective Graffiti Life, said it best. “Nobody takes a photo of a billboard. When it’s hand-painted people pay attention to it. Not just the final product, but also the process of making it. There’s a spectacle to it. And the beautiful thing is that because people do take photos of it, it lives a second life online.”
At BatesMeron, we happen to have the hook-up to many amazing street artists. If this is something you’re interested in, reach out and we’ll help you strategize.
(Heineken; Photo Credit: Global Street Art Agency; Mural Credit: Global Street Art Agency)
(Milwaukee Riverkeeper; Photo Credit: OnMilwaukee; Mural Credit: Stir Marketing)