Street artists have the ability to communicate on an authentic level to a large group of people who usually block out traditional advertising. By using street art, the symbol of youthful rebelliousness and recklessness, brands have been able to reinvent themselves and establish a hip brand identity.
Durex threw their products on the street, outlining condoms on ‘ribbed’ and ‘knobbed’ paving slabs. This simple yet genius display was more successful than a TV advert would have been and gave users a better understanding of the texture without opening the pack.
The impact of street advertising is far more powerful than traditional mediums. Ogilvy and Mather highlighted a big problem in China, painting large wheelchairs over uncovered manholes in Beijing with the message “How many more lives will cost $1.25? Please call 010-62357575 to report manhole cover theft so we can put an end to this.”
Zebra crossings are found in almost every country in the world and their advertising power has been harnessed. Tourism South Africa used a literal zebra print on crossings in Mumbai, India, with the tag line: “It’s closer than you think”.
To promote their new office equipment range FedEx placed a larger than life opened tip-ex bottle at the end of a crossing and implied that a giant a yellow highlighter drew the lines on the pavement.
Public spaces are an untapped but rich resource for advertisers. Adidas used different materials and plants to create an Adidas shoe, transforming the traditional billboard advertisement into a 3D work of art. This advertisement proved effective as it blurred the lines between street art and advertising, generating a lot of public discussion and debate.
The optical illusion pavement art in the Honda Illusions TV advert drove home the Honda message, ‘impossible made possible’. The art focus in this advert draws in even the most cynical consumer and shows how imaginative street art can be used in traditional media advertising.
Advertising has always been looking for a way to stay on trend, but since the emergence of social media platforms it has been harder to gain and sustain consumer attention. Street art has provided advertisers with a way to spread their message and interact with audiences.