OWN THE CONTROVERSY

TitleOWN THE CONTROVERSY
BrandCHRISTIE'S
Category D01. Displays
Product/ServiceCHRISTIE'S AUCTION HOUSE
Entrant LIDA London, UNITED KINGDOM
Idea Creation LIDA London, UNITED KINGDOM
Credits
Name Company Position
Ben Golik LIDA Chief Creative Officer
Tom Kennedy LIDA Art Director
Ieva Paulina LIDA Art Director
Camila Gurgel LIDA Copywriter
Clare Clarke LIDA Creative Services Director
Graham Phillips LIDA Chief Strategy Officer
Adam Reader LIDA Strategy Director
Georgia Graham-Leigh LIDA Managing Director
Ashley Gulickson LIDA Account Director

Write a short summary of what happens in the digital or ambient execution or campaign.

When Christie’s sells a big-name artwork, there’s often a backlash. Many think it’s more about the money, than the art. Enter Jeff Koons - loved and loathed, even within the art world itself. His factory-made, shiny artworks have become an emblem of this commercialisation. We were briefed to hype the sale of Rabbit, the very first of these mirror-finish balloon animals. Art or joke? Idea or inanity? Rabbit has always got very mixed reviews. So we embraced all sides of the argument as evidence of Rabbit’s enduring cultural relevance – and therefore its enduring value. In recognition of Rabbit’s complicated story, we installed a site-specific light installation on Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza facade. Giant neon letters spelled out the word ‘ICON’, with the ‘I’ left pulsing on and off. Con or Icon? A huge reproduction of Rabbit in the adjacent window asked who would “Own The Controversy”.

Cultural / Context information for the jury

In a time of global political uncertainty, the appetite for significant art purchases lies in fewer and fewer hands both from an auction house, dealer and consumer perspective. To make matters worse, auction prices for Koons’ pieces have declined in recent years. Our challenge was to get these powerful few to bid more than they ever had before, for an artist who was seemingly “off the boil.” In doing so, reigniting both Christie’s and Jeff Koons’ relevance in the industry. Undeniably, Koons’ career and work are tightly bound up in contradiction and so we decided to embrace that debate for what it was, selling Rabbit as the ultimate controversy. On the night of the auction, buyers were greeted by our sign. We asked who would step up to Own The Controversy? Rabbit realised a $91.1m price tag – $30m+ above its reserve and $20m+ above its expected top price.