Street artist Banksy has managed to achieve two impossible personas simultaneously that make him and his works a dream to market.
He is both subversive and a great master of PR. He is disruptive and anti-establishment yet appeals to the mainstream masses. And no one knows who he is, what he looks like or where he lives. Yet he is one of the most marketable artists in the UK.
Whenever a new work of his is unveiled, the press come flocking and his fans are desperate to buy any merchandise they can get their hands on with his work emblazoned on it.
So how does he achieve this? He chooses understandable yet purposefully non-traditional marketing tools and positions statements to achieve maximum exposure for his work. He needs great publicity and visibility so that his provocative messages gain traction.
Take Banksy’s latest installation, Dismaland in Weston-Super-Mare. Why choose this seemingly quite erratic location?
The seaside resort is well known, appeals to the traditional side of British culture but is slowly in decline and a bit worn around the edges.
The decaying Tropicana waterpark is an ideal venue for an art installation mimicking an abandoned theme park. It never would have worked if it were in a trendy area in London or a cheerful resort on the south coast. The pathetic fallacy of the Bristolian beach only adds to the overall misery of Dismaland and that is its main selling point.
The installation is remarkable in itself. It is Bansky’s largest project to date, with a huge collaborative effort from 50 other artists participating.
Images of the ‘bemusement park’ dubbed by the creator as ‘entry level anarchism’ is a key presentation of how we are subjected to the same biased and self-serving information, telling us that our society is perfect and we have to kept entertained lest we upset our status quo with the darker side of consumerism.
As well as this ‘beat the system’ concept, the seeming immediacy of the installation also appeals. By all account it has been developed very quickly, almost overnight, and gives the impression of an artist suddenly struck by inspiration.
However behind this ‘random’ façade is a very well thought out and extensive guerrilla marketing organisation and capability.
First and foremost it is based on the immediate appeal of his creative genius.
It is also based on Banksy’s very long history of managing journalists and information providers; no matter what he puts out he’s got them wrapped around his little finger.
Furthermore he and his team have an intimate knowledge of how the media work and on how stories get attention and become viral. As well as being a talented artist, Banksy is a clever marketer on creating key hooks at the right time to the right people.
Photo via Flickr/
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