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La crème

04/05/2006 - par Mark Tungate

I 've never accepted the ­cliché of the tortured artist who would rather starve than submit to the forces of commercialism. Unless you keep all your masterpieces in your attic, you're in business, baby - so get used to it. Even Michelangelo worked on commission.

In this era of « advertising avoidance », the worlds of art and commerce are becoming more closely intertwined than they have been since the Renaissance. Brands increasingly prefer to spend cash sponsoring art exhibitions rather than on ad campaigns. Fashion labels often link with young artists to give their clothes a more creative aura. Both parties benefit.

But why sponsor an art ­exhibition when you can ­ co-curate one ? That's what Nivea is doing with its new Ultra Peau exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo. A series of specially commissioned ­artworks around the theme of skin, this is the most effective example of « experiential marketing » I've seen for a long time. Even as you look at paintings based on skin cells, or lie in a darkened room watching films evoking the texture of skin, you can't forget the underlying aim of the project, which is to reinforce Nivea's brand positioning. Some people will be more bothered than I was by this undisguised intent. I merely thought that Nivea had got the message : alternative marketing works better with a certain target group than another dull ad campaign. And while this slice of PR as « artertainment » is hardly subtle, it has the merit of being ­honest.

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