Art? Commerce? Ads? Who Cares!

Some early examples of Siliwood Madness at its best.

Art? Commerce? Ads? Who Cares!

Art? Commerce? Ads? Who Cares!

By Fast Company Staff

Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge Posters
Those alarmed at the increasing incidence of “serious” artists creating works for brands can take comfort, at least, in the fact that the art-marketing convergence is nothing new. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was, in part, an ad man. His fin de siecle posters of the colorful denizens of Paris’s Montmartre district, including dancers at the Moulin Rouge, were ads, paid for by the performers and local establishments and posted along the Boulevard de Clichy.

Procter & Gamble’s Soap Operas
Packaged-goods giant Procter & Gamble pioneered branded content with its sponsored radio serials (soap operas) in the 1930s. When attention spans moved from radio to TV, P&G dominated with shows such as Guiding Light. The last P&G-owned show, As the World Turns, was canceled in 2010, but the idea of this type of programming lives on.

BMW Films
The idea of brand-backed content wasn’t new in 2001 (see P&G) when BMW launched its online film series, The Hire, but the project marked the first web-focused entertainment campaign from a major brand and represented ad content as destination, not interruption. Created by agency Fallon with David Fincher consulting, the campaign also distinguished itself with the involvement of big- name stars (Gary Oldman, Don Cheadle, Madonna) and directors (John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee). BMW Films hit the ad business so hard that the Cannes ad festival, the industry’s top award show, had to create a new category–the Titanium Lion–to recognize it.

A tiny product with a gargantuan impact, Nike+ elegantly demonstrated to the ad industry how important technology had become to brand creativity. A collaboration with Apple and agency R/GA, the running app was an early example of marketing as utility instead of just message.

Apple Ipod and ITunes
Like many other world-changing products, the iPod wasn’t the first in its category. But it was the device that ended up blowing up the last vestiges of the music industry and our ideas of what a tech company could be. The covetable gadget represented the power of design, the convergence of tech and creative vision. With its companion iTunes store, it also represented the importance of content to a hardware maker and set Apple on the path to become one of the world’s most valuable companies.

Photo: Flickr helloparis (Toulouse-Lautrec)

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