GRAFFITI IS ADVERTISING
via davetrott by Dave Trott on 8/23/11


Even people who aren’t remotely interested in it can name one graffiti artist.
Banksy.
This makes Banksy the market leader in graffiti.
Given that he owns the market, it makes sense for him to grow the market.
Consequently Banksy doesn’t just do graffiti anymore.
He does books, films, posters, T-shirts, anything he can think of.
And he brilliantly manipulates the media.
Banksy has moved beyond just graffiti, into the much larger field of general outrageousness.
He took an oil painting, similar to a Constable landscape, and painted an attack helicopter into it.
Then, while someone distracted the guard, he hung it in the Tate.
It was several days before the curators spotted it and took it down.
Then he went to The Museum of Natural History.
Next to the other exhibits he placed several dragonflies, with sidewinder missiles under their wings.
Again, it was weeks before anyone removed them.
Later he went to The British Museum and placed a piece of Stone Age cave painting on the wall.
Alongside the men chasing mammoths with spears, he’d put a woman pushing a shopping trolley.
All of these were photographed and in the newspaper well before they were discovered by the curators.
This is amazing publicity for Banksy.
Consequently he’s become bigger than just graffiti.
His art is now fashionable amongst the rich and famous.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt own half a dozen Banksys.
Which is why a lot of ‘purist’ graffiti artists call him a sellout.
Because he’s moved beyond them.
Because he’s successful and they’re not.
But one particular graffiti artist is smarter than that.
’Robbo’ is using classic advertising thinking.
He’s decided to let Banksy grow the market, while he takes market share.
Instead of moaning about Banksy, just piggyback him.
He’s perfectly happy for Banksy to make more people aware of graffiti as art.
Meanwhile he’s manufactured a war between himself and Banksy.
He ‘claims’ Banksy defaced one of his pieces of graffiti.
This gives Robbo license to get even.
So he now defaces Banksy graffiti wherever he finds it.
Robbo paints his name into it.
People who previously only knew of Banksy have become fascinated.
This is classic Avis v Hertz, Pepsi v Coke, Mac v PC, thinking.
Create a two-brand battle in the public’s mind.
Go head to head with the market leader.
Provoke them and become a challenger brand in the public’s mind.
Then you blow off all the smaller brands in the market.
Consequently, gallery owners have contacted Robbo to stage exhibitions.
His work is now selling for serious money to collectors.
BBC4 even made a programme about the phenomenon.
It’s called Graffiti Wars.
In it, we find Camden council employs people just to remove graffiti.
But they were criticized for removing valuable Banksy graffiti.
Local residents feel a Banksy increases the cultural credibility of their area.
So when Robbo defaces a Banksy, the council have to remove Robbo’s graffiti, but leave the Banksy.
Sometimes they’ll even get an art expert to come round and inspect it.
He then retouches the Banksy back to its original condition.
Banksy is behaving like the market leader.
Robbo is behaving like the challenger brand.

Banksy and Robbo understand how advertising works, better than a lot of people who work in advertising.

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