Advertising is the art of branded storytelling. So it’s no surprise that brands recruit artists and storytellers to convey their message. When it’s done right, there’s hope for creativity and capitalism to coexist. When it’s done wrong, the artist loses her studio street cred and the brand looks like the self-conscious white kid wearing FuBu to fit in.

Nike recently commissioned sculptor Michael Murphy to create a Michael Jordan instillation for their store in Tokyo, Japan. It’s stunning, unexpected and most importantly, does the brand and the artist justice. How? Nike gave Mr. Murphy a project that embraced his style and challenged his craft, pushing him to create a double perspective reveal, something we haven’t seen from him prior to the Nike project.

Meanwhile..

JetBlue swung and missed at its partnership with Gemma Correll, a cartoonists who writes comics about her pet pug. JetBlue hired Gemma to create Instragram content, and immediately dumbed down and twisted her humor into liquorless punch. How? By neutering the very quality that attracted them to her in the first place – candid, self-revealing jokes about loving pugs too much and people too little. Instead of commissioning a project that would have leveraged her style, like – Puglife meets Jetlife and the adventures of a traveling dog lover – they micro-managed her voice to the point that they could have written it themselves (which they probably did)… I rant. I holler. I make my point:

It’s not about finding an artist with a good voice and teaching them to sing your tune. It’s about knowing your own brand well enough to identify artists who already speaks your language.

 

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