Ad? Art? Ad?

03 Apr 2012 - Maria Kivimaa


“Sometimes, advertising is just art’s slush fund” stated Fast Company Magazine last week. After watching Samsung’s new advert Explore Your Dual World with human projection mapping, one cannot help but be intrigued by the relationship between art and ads and whether advertising can or should ever be considered as art. Or vice versa.

When does advertising become advertising? When it’s paid by a brand? When it tries to sell something? When the logo is big enough? Or is this a mindset thing as well? If it is, we are facing an opposite problem to art; most people want to close their mind from commercial alluring. So, unlike when recognising a piece of art and letting their mind be gracefully baffled by it, when recognising a commercial message one shuts their mind and bypasses it without thinking. A painting of a melting clock by Salvador Dali tells us about the meaning of time and life, a poster of an identical melting clock by a watch brand is selling watches.

And here we are, desperately trying to make people stop, think, feel and engage with brands. Does it necessarily have to be artists’ sole right to puzzle people? They are trying to sell their work as well; most galleries are just nicely disguised expensive shops with ineffective retail design and lot’s of whiteness.

Of course, art and advertising will never be the same (that would be a grim world). And you couldn’t possibly remove the logo from the watch ad, how would the people otherwise know what brand it is that’s talking to you. You’ve paid for this media space, for God’s sake.

But we could shake things up a little bit every now and then. Going artsy and wacky might not seem the best option in a board room full of distressed financial managers, but given the everlasting economic bleakness, maybe it is exactly the time to go down a slightly daunting and unknown path. Reaching friendship and interest groups (the new black) can be done outside Facebook and Pinterest – by pushing the boundaries, breaking the rules and going big, bold and beautiful.

Something like Samsung just did. Or Cartier’s recent ad-come-short-film L’Odyssee, For a moment I wasn’t sure if I what I was watching. But I was dazzled. And I have never before in my life own or even wanted to own diamonds or pearls.

If we did this a bit more often, maybe the line between art and ads would become a bit more flexible. Perhaps people would allow brands to talk to them a little bit more, even when the logo is visible. We just need to occasionally open their minds a little bit and earn their attention.

That’s what artists have done through centuries.

Over to you. I’m sure there must be other mind-blowing examples of ads borderlining art. Comments, please!