Wednesday 6 July 2011

Advertising imitating Street Art

It was a small boy who sent my eye in its direction. With a large smile on his face, he was pulling his mum's sleeve and pointing to a spot over my shoulder. I turned round to see what he was looking at, and saw what -to me - is a new breed of advertising, entirely based on the codes of street art.

Without wanting to give this rather banal message artistic qualities it doesn't merit, it had clearly succeeded in one respect - it had drawn the attention of a child and made him smile. The message of the ad itself is exactly what we would find in any media or on any support, but it is the technique adopted here which interests me.

Looked at from the side, it is possible to see how this campaign has been created. The ad is in cardboard, and although attached to an existing billboard, it also completely covers and hides it.

Seen from the front again, it is clear that the desired effect is to make it look like a casually pasted creation on a blank wall. Looked at quickly, it could be just another wheatpasted poster on the city walls, but the second glance draws your eye towards the message.

It doesn't surprise me in the slightest that advertising agencies should try to occupy this territory, but what could this mean for the future of wheatpasting? These techniques have been used by street artists for many years (going back to Blek le Rat), and have always been very efficient ways of communicating a message, but if advertisers begin filling up these wall spaces with similar creations, will the artists have to look for new ideas and new ways of communicating?


Omid said...

Advertisers have already co-opted spray paint and stencils, so this was only a matter of time... But then again, wheatpasting is a street-art throwback to the old ways of posting bills on any available wall space, isn't it?

Adam said...

I agree that there are many similarities between these two worlds, and that they have often influenced each other, but there seems to be something slightly different about this one.

What is perhaps most interesting of all is how it is superseding the existing billboard underneath, but in a very 'low-tech' manner (and this at a time when the RATP is installing more and more video advertising screens in the Metro).

With it's carefully chosen 'urban' (and scruffy) location, it is obviously a deliberate attempt to attract an audience which has become more and more immune to traditional advertising methods.

Has anyone seen this particular ad anywhere else?

Kiki said...

another interesting article and theme. I have no opinion on this but I see the point you're making. I haven't seen any such 'wall paintings/cum ad posters' but in most countries I have lived, private 'shopkeepers' did paint some sort of ad for their shop on the walls of their property. So maybe it's just a trend that HAD to come?!

PeterParis said...

First time I see this kind of advertising. I will open my eyes and see if and how it develops.

We complain sometimes about too many billboards and advertising all over the place, but if you look on photos from some 100 years ago, you can see that almost all blind walls were covered by advertising.

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