Art in a box!

Even if they are neighborhood rivals, I’ve got to give Energy BBDO props for creating a spectacular experiential marketing campaign on behalf of the Art Institute in Chicago.

Made to coincide with the opening of the Art Institute’s hyper-stylish Modern Wing, the agency (in partnership with the museum) developed “500 Ways of Looking at Modern.” In it, 500 creatively constructed cubes –some big, some small- were hidden all over the city. Each contained a code, which could then be registered on a website for prizes and the like.

In an article for the Chicago Tribune (the second on the subject), Lauren Viera wrote that only 314 cubes have been registered. With tongue firmly in cheek, she reported that perhaps the remaining cubes end up on Ebay as collector’s items. Along these lines, the museum added another link to their website, 500-Ways/lost in hopes of finding the remaining “lost” cubes.

It’s all in fun, of course. And it’s brilliant. Creating a game around these boxes gets people thinking outside their boxes –about modern art and the Art Institute. The campaign manages to be childlike and sophisticated at the same time, which, correct me if I’m wrong, is just about the perfect definition for modern art.

Using our city as a backdrop and activating its citizenry is spot on for the brief: how to find modern art in Chicago. Employing social media during the hunt and being able to register cubes online closes the deal nicely.

The fact that the Chicago Tribune has written two decent stories on the event is a success in its own right. After all, isn’t publicity what the Art Institute was looking for? That numerous cubes are still “missing” makes the idea even more fun, not to mention giving it social currency and staying power.

Bravo, Energy BBDO. This is pretty cool.

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