· Jeff Koons: An ironically thoughtful point of view ·

I found fascinating how he could be so conceptual and thoughtful through such playful and thoughtful pieces. Everything seems to be little bit childish around him, like his “Play-Doh” (1994-2014)  monumental sculpture of modelling clay. Already here, we can see he likes to borrow brand’s names and all it comes with them.

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“Play-Doh” (1994-2014).

I have to acknowledge that I didn’t know about Jeff Koons. However, I recognised his work at first glance and as a matter of fact there´s no way you can forget his pieces even if you see them just once. In my case, it was last year when Jeff Koons was exhibiting at the Guggenheim in Bilbao. I couldn’t manage to go yet I remember I saw a short report about the exhibition on the TV and, as it could not be otherwise, his particular universe stuck in my mind. Luckily, this time I got the opportunity to see his work live and get to know about him and his peculiar approach to this world.

Jeff Koons was born in Pennsylvania (USA) in 1955 and was captivated by dada art since a very young age. His career starts in the 80´s taking the superfluity of consumerism as one of his key topics. He’s considered a post-modernist keen on the kitsch and pop-art with a tendency for monumentalism. This exhibition was a fair reflection of this work since all kind of disciplines, from sculpture to painting and photography, were displayed.

At the beginning we find some ready-mades like the hoovers from his collection ‘The New’ (1979). These vacuums are all immaculate, pristine brand new machines never ever used before which is obviously a rhetoric and ironic reference to his dada background.

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New Hoover Delux (1980)

In this same first room, there are on display some billboards like “The New Roomy Toyota Family Camry “ (1983) or the “Find a Quiet Table” (1986). These particular pieces have a great link with branding since he is taking real brands like Toyota and the liquor Frangelico. He works with a brand an takes the values these brands represent to convey his message and get it across the viewer. The audience has a previous idea of the values of these brands and this is something Koons uses in his benefit rather than get rid of it.

Same happens in the last room where he uses identities as part of his work. There we can find “Acrobat” (2003-2009), an aluminium sculpture of an inflatable pool toy lobster, he called it himself the ‘Dalí-esque’ lobster as it has a large erected moustache.

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“Acrobat” (2003-2009)
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Popeye: “I yam what I yam!”

The serie of inflatable sculptures have the name of “Popeye”, the cartoon sailor from the 1930’s. Thus, once again, he takes the values behind these two identities and adds them to his work. Certainly, the mention of Dalí refers to the fact that the sculpture itself is quiet surrealist, Dali’s appreciation of lobsters, and the fact that the material they are made of is actually the last thing you would expect, since he is representing a quite volatile material but used a way heavier one instead. The reference of Popeye is linked to his wide-spread quote “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam”.

He is probably trying to fool the viewer by telling them that what they see is what it is but it is not the case at all. It is all a playful trick of Koons in his attempt to make the viewer doubt and get intrigued .

The way he makes the viewer take part in the interpretation of his art, has a lot to do with branding as well, as the viewer is not a mere spectator but raises some thoughts and creates some links and relationships with the pieces. Like in his monumental sculpture “Ballon Monkey (Blue)” (2006-2013) which is made of stainless steel that lets the viewer see himself reflected on the surface of the massive piece.

 

Some of the values that describe Koons’ work would be:

  • ironic
  • engaging
  • playful
  • provocative and supportive with the normalisation of sexual taboos
  • thoughtful
  • conceptual
  • inflatable
  • monumental
  • dadaist
  • ready-made
  • critic with consumerism
  • colourful and bright

All in all, such a wonderfully grateful experience and a brilliant discovery of both art gallery and artist.

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· StoryBranding ·

The first session of CTS Brand Busting was very interesting, this is what I would call a great and powerful beginning. Amongst many other topics, we talked about storytelling related to brands. This is also known as ‘Storybranding’.

The eventual aim of every brand is to sell. However brands can either advertise products to purchase or brilliantly create an entire story behind the brand to get sales by itself. This way, the brand would establish an enduring relationship with the consumer that would guarantee the ‘repeated purchase’. Thus, it is smart to think that the more people relates to a brand, the more will the sales increase. Indeed, the current president of ‘Story-Lab U.S.’ and author of ‘StoryBranding 2.0.’ (2014) stated that “A product’s purpose is functional. A brand’s purpose is meaningful.”

Hence, how can this lasting connection between consumer and brand be achieved? Basically, it consist in creating the soul of the brand, its values, its ideology. In the end, all we aim to is to make people feel identified with the brand. Almost as inventing an always supportive friend: no matter what, this brand will always be a guaranteed value you can trust to fulfil your needs and a ‘friend’ you can always rely on in your next purchase.

Yet, how are the brand identity and its values created? First of all, it is key to understand and analyse the background of the brand to identify the values this brand stand for. The second is relating these thoughts with the brand. Once this is accomplished, it is time to realise which is the profile of the target market and where is the gap the brand can get to them. In other words, distinguish which needs are still not fulfilled that the brand in question can and let the brand reach the prospects through this little gap.

For instance, the energetic drink Red bull is not introduced as a questionable nice flavoured drink made with peculiar ingredients but as a drink for the unstoppable, the adventurous, the ones with no limits. Red Bull is a drink specially made for them, that understand their desires and encourages them to keep it up.

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Red Bull advert “Find Your Wings”

Eventually, there might happen to be some obstacles. The only way to face them correctly is by being aware of this possibility since the very beginning and stay firm when they arrive to even broaden the meaning of the values they stranded for since the beginning.

To sum up, story branding is a lifelong method brands can use to get a loyal spectrum of consumers by focusing first on their own story and then on prospects’ needs to find an unbreakable connection between them.

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References>

Dahlia, M. and Lange, F. and Smith, T. (2010) ‘Marketing Communication‘.Chichester: Willey.

Signorelli, J. (2014) ‘StoryBranding 2.0.‘. Austin, Texas: Green leaf Book Group Press.