Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

What do you call a 1 million dollar artistic hack? We’re calling it ‘The Banksy’. If you’ve looked at the news or your social media feed lately—you’d have seen the prank of the decade, pulled off by the British artist, Banksy. At a recent auction in England, an artwork of his shredded itself to the horror of a room full of bidders—moments after it was auctioned off for the lofty price tag.

Left: Banksy’s Girl with balloon Right: The shredded artwork seen at Sotheby’s – Photo: PA

Banksy’s stunt has garnered so much attention and ‘performance art’ value, that if the original bidder gives up the piece now, it would value way past its original price tag.

This is a great note for marketers around the world—how the value of an offering can shift based on engagement, impact and most importantly, what its context can lend.

It doesn’t end there. Following this, a number of brands have taken a stab at some creative branding by borrowing Banksy’s creative genius and the subsequent virality of the prank, for their social media posts.

Today’s marketing lesson is not just from the artist himself, but also from these brands which capitalized on the news. While some did fine, some missed the mark, and others were too much in a hurry to jump on the trend to notice possible trouble:

Mcdonald’s:

The image of a shredded McDonald’s cover with fries pouring out saw some immediate success after hitting the internet. But soon enough, social media regulars noticed that there wasn’t just one, but two Banksy-ed McFries floating around. What had happened was two independent creative agencies -both engaged by the larger McDonald’s franchise- came up with this:

Sitting halfway across the world from each other, two creatives cooked up the exact same ad copy for precisely the same client. Talk about a creative coincidence!

Left: TBWA\ANG creative Richard Agius’ design-Right: DDB Vienna’s design for McDonald’s

Lemonade:

The insurance company Lemonade tried their shot at replicating the viral artwork as well. They put up a short video with their interpretation of the ‘Girl with balloon’, which had a pink balloon matching the brand’s color theme. They dropped the ad with the tagline ‘Insurance in 90 seconds’. While the output was visually good, Lemonade did not make a memorable campaign or add value to their social media marketing. It merely jumped on a trend and didn’t mess up.

Perrier:

Here is a brand that we believe has nailed this campaign, while packing in some nice looking visuals. Not only is the makeshift shredded-lemon a nod to Banksy’s original, the brand’s messaging completely wins the day. Their tweet that reads “No need to break the bank for a work of art” is not only witty but also captures the brand identity of this bottled water company with a luxurious price-tag, quite well.

This makes the messaging sound more authentic and elevates the product, removing any traces of the ‘trying too hard’ syndrome that brands can be plagued by.

So what’s the final marketing lesson for the day?

It’s simply this—take calculated risks when dabbling with viral content. Jumping on a trend can have one of many effects on your branding. It can range from confusing, to cool to borderline genius. If done well, these are just some of the benefits:

a. Engagement
b. Flexing your marketing skills
c. Brand recall

If done badly…well that’s a blog for another day!

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