Can marketing become art? Can art help marketing? Can both converge and help society through a crisis? In September, the international beer brand Stella Artois launched a project in Milan, effectively providing affirmative answers to all three questions. The project, by the suggestive name of Together Again, safely apart was created in collaboration with Studio Number One, to promote social distancing in bars through street art.
Together Again, safely apart: social life and entertainment during Covid times
What Stella Artois presented was nothing short of a new model for social aggregation, designed to grant people’s safety in a social situation. A barge was docked in one of Milan’s canals, in Porta Ticinese – a hub of Milanese nightlife – and the creative team of Studio Number One painted a work of street-art on its wooden floor. This creative studio is itself a symbol of change and innovation: it was founded by the artist Shepard Fairey, best known for his artwork “Hope“, the poster Barack Obama used in his 2008 election campaign. The barge was used as a bar and club, hosting live music and art performances. The art on the floor, dividing the space into brightly-coloured areas, helped the punters keep the appropriate distance from one another while enjoying their beer. The shapes on the floor were also fluid and irregular, designed to guide the flow of people, making their experience as natural and “organic” as possible. Access to the barge was free up to a maximum capacity of 40 people.
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¡Bienvenidos a #MexicoCity! #SNO’s socially distanced artwork created for @stellaartois has headed South! This art at your feet allows you to enjoy a drink with your friends and loved ones while staying safely apart! Visit the #TogetherApartStreetArt installation at La Condesa, on the corner of Amsterdam and Sonora from now until October 28th! Photo: Julio Bohórquez & Victor Espinosa for @artsynonym #stellaartois #CDMX #MexicoCity #ArtbySNO
What brands can do to engage consumers during a pandemic
After months of lockdown and with the perspective of a second wave looming closer, people are starved for social interactions, and brands like Stella Artois, while they can profit from this demand, have a responsibility when it comes to promoting correct behaviours in social situations. This is one of the rare occasions in which brands do have a place in the public discourse. Investing in a marketing campaign can be a way of making a statement, of sending meaningful messages, which must be worked into the brand’s identity. Engaging consumers with a project such as Together Again, safely apart is an effective way of encouraging social activities and the cautious return to some semblance of normalcy, while promoting safety and minimising risks.