Stuart Elliot of The New York Times recently penned an interesting article on the rising trend of marketers utilizing the work of artists in their advertising campaigns. While this tactic has typically been reserved for marketers targeting an older, more affluent demographic, more brands are artfully crafting their campaigns to customers in their twenties and thirties. Elliot cites American Apparel, Gap, Chanel, Lincoln, Jaguar, Red Bull and Samsung as more youthful-oriented marketers that have an infusion of art in their marketing campaigns.
But Elliot also pinpoints a major problem at the crossroads of art and commerce - at what point does using art as a marketing tactic just become tacky? Kevin Kearney, the managing director of Alldayeveryday, said “it’s totally fine to do if it’s done in a tasteful way," and the partnership is both beneficial for the artist and the
While there are definitely brands who can pull off such a feat (independent film companies come to mind), there are many more that cannot - but not for a lack of trying of course. It's simply not who they are; the pure pursuit of art is not part of the fabric of the brand. Therefore, the formula is flipped upside down and it's no longer 'art for the sake of art' but rather 'art for the sake of the sale.' The end game becomes the beneficial image that can be created with it. The art itself is relegated to the role of a medium.
Thus, it would seem that the point where this tactic turns distasteful should be traced all the way back to the marketer's motive.