Is advertising art? Is art advertising?

The great artists like Manet and Cezanne, have always challenged what is thought to be art. They created masterpieces that countered the conventional assumptions of the time. With ready-made art, Marcel Duchamp transformed the common household items and everyday products from toilets to bicycles into gallery pieces. With the 1960s Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol made a statement on mass consumption by painting a wall of branded product such as the now-famous Campbell’s Soup Cans.

If manufactured goods and products can transcend to fine art, can advertisements do the same? Most reputable museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, have included advertisements in their permanent collections.

The very purpose of advertising is what some consider as the key factor in excluding ads from being art. “Real art” struggles with the complexities of life, and it gives us insight to the human existence and the human experience. By design, most ads are inherently simple and brief, making few if any original statements about humanity.

Our modern culture is so perversely influenced by advertising and popular trends, that sometimes it is impossible to separate ads from commentaries about our society. Through the decades, the ads created for Coca-Cola provide a look into what appealed to us during the times they were created. [Check out http://www.beautifullife.info/advertisment/history-of-coca-cola-in-ads/].

Certainly the art and popular culture of our times have directly engaged advertising, and vice versa. Check out the Saturday Night Live faux commercial for TaxMasters: http://www.hulu.com/watch/184585/saturday-night-live-tax-masters

So where does that leave us in this digital age of 24/7 pop culture overload? When done well, advertising and branding inspires an authentic cultural event: long-term loyalty and enthusiasm for a company and its products. It can inspire us, turn customers into diehard brand fans, and even make the world better with charity initiatives. Think about the cult following of Harley-Davidson, the loyalty of Zappo’s customers, or the excitement preceding new product releases from Apple.

Whether it’s art or advertising — or a little of both — that’s our goal at Imaginuity Interactive.

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