-60% CULTURE

Short List
Title-60% CULTURE
BrandSTATE OF THE ARTS
Category B06. Innovative Use of Influencers
Product/ServiceFLEMISH ART
Entrant BBDO BELGIUM Brussels, BELGIUM
Idea Creation BBDO BELGIUM Brussels, BELGIUM
PR BBDO BELGIUM Brussels, BELGIUM
Production BBDO BELGIUM Brussels, BELGIUM
Credits
Name Company Position
Sebastien De Valck BBDO Belgium Creative Director
Arnaud Pitz BBDO Belgium Creative Director
Frederik Clarysse BBDO Belgium Creative
Johan Van Oeckel Freelance Creative
Patricia Van de Kerckhove BBDO Belgium Head of Production
Rob Govaerts BBDO Belgium Desktop Publisher
Tom Nackaerts BBDO Belgium Head of Studio
John Van de Pol BBDO Belgium Content Manager

Why is this work relevant for PR?

In protest against funding cuts for art & culture, State of the arts, a platform for artists from all fields, created a simple, focused and shareable campaign that put the dramatic consequences of this decision at the top of the agenda, for both the public and the media.

Background

Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium, is famous for, and proud of a rich cultural heritage. Supported and championed by the region, young artists have often been able to develop groundbreaking work. In November 2019, a newly formed Flemish Government decided to cut funding for art & culture projects by 60 %. Evidently, this would be a great loss. Immediately after this announcement, State of the Arts, a newly founded platform for all artistic fields in Flanders, needed the news media and the public to fully appreciate the dramatic impact of this decision. And criticise the government for it. However, it's hard to imagine the impact on art that hasn't been made yet. The briefing was simple: create an impactful message that set the agenda for the public, the media and decision-makers alike.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

Using the Flemish colour, yellow, State of the Arts covered 60% of various works of art by Flemish artists and asked them to share the images on social media. On november 14, 2019, at 12 am, all artists shared the image simultaneously using the hashtag #thisisourculture. More than 500 artists, directors, singers, writers, performers, actors and illustrators shared photos of themselves or their work that were 60% covered by yellow. Showing that 60% less funding equals 60% less culture. Once the social media campaign was launched, the symbol was available on profile pictures, featured by artists in new artworks and even incorporated into performances, like a piano performance where only 40% of the music was played. The yellow coverage was also recreated in shop window displays, on billboards, and even in theatre performances. Making this a symbol of protest, visible throughout the whole country.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

We needed a clear and focused message: "-60% funding equals -60% culture." And we needed to convey this message through a mechanism that is simple, shareable and accessible. We covered existing works of art to visualize the impact of a piece of legislation in an immediate and simple way. By sending the artists to share an image and asking them to share simultaneously on social media, we ensured a huge reach from the beginning. The message was immediately understood and needed no explanation. Designed to be picked up on and used as a symbol to voice the people's concern. So widespread among artists and the public that it could not be ignored by the media, further increasing the pressure on policy makers.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

The decision to cut funding was announced on november 11,2019. Immediately, brainstorms were set up and the idea was presented at an action meeting on november 12. Over 500 contemporary works of art were covered for 60% and sent to the famous artists who made them. We coordinated the social media campaign by providing the artists a caption: "-60% funding = -60% culture", a hashtag #thisisourculture and a moment to share simultaneously on instagram: november 14, at 12 pm. By sharing with the same hashtag, the artists created a 60% yellow wall on the platform. After this launch, a press release was immediately sent out. Also, several initiatives were co-ordinated by State of the Arts. Theatres painted windows 60% yellow, artists and art students painted new art that was 60% yellow, posters for cultural events were covered for 60% with yellow posters, and a 60% yellow profile was made available.

List the results (30% of vote)

The hashtag #thisisourculture instantly became viral. 60% yellow became a symbol for peaceful protest against this funding cut. People showed support and changed their profile pictures, created new artworks, etc. Almost simultaneously it was reported by the mainstream media. Online reach (instagram, Facebook filters, Facebook posts, twitter posts, ...): 4 500 000 visitors. (profile filter usage data can't be measured from Facebook) TV Reach (news programs): 1 550 980 viewers. Online articles: 6.545.990 visitors. Offline Articles: 3 224 580 readers. The campaign resonated in all regions of Belgium: both in Flanders and Wallonia, reaching (at least) than 8 million unique people out of 10 million Belgians: that's 80% of the country’s population. Generating around € 1,6 million in earned media attention (although that's a modest estimate) and more importantly, making the decision to cut funding highly criticised, both by the press and by the people, on social media and on the streets. A nationwide petition to reverse this decision was set up. Thousands of protesters marched the streets, demanding the funding cut to be canceled. All of these actions were reported again nationwide. Under all this public pressure, Minister-President Jan Jambon increased funding for arts & culture by allocating 4 million euros in funds. After this campaign, State of the Arts became the main negotiating partner between the artists and the Flemish government, in an ongoing debate about support for artists.