New York City’s classical music station WQXR got a nice New York Times hit last week in the advertising section. Yay for classical music getting featured in another part of the paper!
Stuart Elliott from the Times reports that WQXR created a poster in the style of Shepard Fairey–of Obama campaign/possible image theft fame–to promote what they are calling “Beethoven Awareness Month.” The concept is based not on Fairey’s Obama poster, but rather on the Andre the Giant Has a Posse thing-thing/OBEY Giant posters:
I personally feel awareness months should be reserved for things like, oh, I dunno, breast cancer, 0r as Nick Scholl wrote on Twitter the other night, “did you know that November is November Awareness Month?” I’m certainly happy for the station’s Times coverage, though, and more specifically, am glad that a classical radio station like this one (click here to see the one I mean) has the funds and the inclination to invest in advertising at all.
Here’s the WQXR design:
The poster plugs both listening to WQXR on air and via their new mobile app, so as the Times piece points out, they’re not trying to promote classical music, necessarily, just where to hear it. This may not be effective as a campaign attempting to sell tickets or increase arts funding, but they are a radio station, and frankly, selling tickets and increasing funding for, say, arts education, is not their problem. Rather than try to Save The Arts en masse, WQXR identified a very specific need and is addressing it. They started with the thesis–a thesis I agree with–that people generally know (of) classical music. That is, they don’t need to be told to listen to classical music: they need to be told where to listen to classical music should they already want to. From the Times article:
The concept was developed after some recent consumer research that demonstrated a “breadth of interest in classical music” among New Yorkers, [Noreen] O’Loughlin said, but a relatively low awareness of WQXR.
I also appreciate this, from Limore Shur, chief creative officer at brand/design firm, Eyeball, hired for the campaign:
As for the seeming incongruity of selling music with visual images, Mr. Shur said: “We are in New York. We do have a sophisticated audience that walks the streets and has a greater visual awareness.”
Point being, photos of string quartets on bare stages aren’t going to sell what the actual music experience will be, so to actually get people engaged, a campaign has to be clever and aesthetically pleasing. Marketing 101, for sure, but I think a lot of classical organizations have lost track of this. HOW WILL A PIANO CD SELL IF THERE’S NOT A PIANO ON THE ALBUM COVER??
I haven’t seen any of these posters around the city, though, have you? There’s a video proving their existence, so I’ll be on the look-out.