A banana spray-painted on a wall - every day I walk past it, and for some reason it makes me smile. Street art is rapidly becoming an increasingly accepted form of art.
However, with constant disagreement over whether it is just an act of vandalism or whether it should be considered ‘real’ art; graffiti is possibly one of the most hotly contested issues of the 21st century. From the almost indistinct scrawled tags to the stencilled artworks of Banksy, street art is one form of public art that has dominated many city spaces.
Coming from a geographical background has opened my eyes to the wider implications and meaning hidden within the paint. With the initial debate over contested spaces of art aside, street art is also a fantastic indicator of cultural norms and flows of the time. The colours, styles, fonts, characters and logos displayed in the paint offer a huge insight into the cultural and political conditions in the city.
One of the most well-known areas of contested space and street art is London’s South Bank. The paint splattered skate park is nestled amongst the shop fronts of South Bank and has caused a large amount of disagreement over the use of the space. Urban planners wanted to move the park to create a new cultural hub. However, after much debate the Southbank skate park is staying put due to its unique cultural presence.
So how does this cultural aspect link into the world of marketing? In my opinion, street art offers a whole new path for advertising. By advertising through street art, the product or brand itself becomes assimilated into the environment creating subconscious brand awareness. Many advertisers are starting to make use of these potential spaces. For example, Microsoft is highlighting the portable nature of the ‘Surface’ laptops by creating these portraits in Chicago.
This type of advertising gives the company or brand an extra boost by inciting interest about the art, people share the image using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram thus helping promote the brands and products further.
Similarly the way we interact with the world is changing too. In the cultural age of mobile phones, we are often looking down at the screen, even when walking so adverts normally at eye level are no longer seen. Therefore some advertisers are moving the location of adverts to capitalise on this. Recently, on a walk to work, I was looking at my phone when I noticed something spray painted to the floor. Overnight several “Spotify” logos had been spray painted on the pavement and where now directly in my eye line! Many have questioned whether this is the future of advertising.
Culture and brands cross over more often than some may think and using the street art culture to advertise could be a significantly important method of promotion in the future.