Atlanta has long been touted as a cultural hub, given frequent national nods towards its rap, hip-hop and now, film and TV scene. Given the onset of a slew of pop-culture phenomena like Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” and the undeniably viral “Dab” alongside other dance trends, the city has successfully rebranded itself with creative currency.
But a question rears itself – how does Hotlanta ensure that this rise in cultural capital expands beyond a hip-today-gone-tomorrow framework and creates an enduring, supportive community for local artists?
Recently, Coca-Cola, headquartered in Atlanta, took a small step towards resolving this issue.
Coke and art in context
Coca-Cola is no stranger to the arts. For years it has collaborated with international artists to transform its brand persona into pop-culture cool, staying relevant in the eyes of consumers for generations. Andy Warhol himself was inspired by the brand, acknowledging it as a cultural icon in his work.
To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Coca-Cola challenged artists from around the world to recreate images of the bottle in classic Coke colors for the #MashupCoke campaign. There were over 200 entrants and select bottles were featured in an exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art in 2015.
May of 2017, Coke took a different approach to leveraging the arts. In turn, arguably doing more to promote Atlanta’s local visual arts community.
Getting to know the locals
Sally King Benedict, ‘From Sun to Moon’
Rather than just playing up the international locations from which its brand is consumed, Coca-Cola celebrated its immediate Southern surroundings, sharing a snapshot of the many visual artists that were either raised in or recently migrated to Atlanta, with the world.
In essence, Coca-Cola created an arts partnership and marketing mashup with a twist – placing more attention on the local artist and less on the bottle. The bottle becomes a mirror from which the artist, and the Atlanta community itself, reflects their own brand.
So how do these artists view themselves and the community around them? How have their lives been impacted by living in a land where the sugary syrup runs so thick even looking at a different brand of darkly colored soda is in some instances, considered blasphemous?
To answer that question, you are invited to enjoy the work of Demone Phillips, Kathleen Plate and a host of other local artists at the World of Coke’s 10 Artists, 10 Bottles exhibit.
One of the artists is an employee of Coke itself, working in security positions by day and exploring the arts by night. Others recall fond memories of participating in local athletic competitions and community events as children, where the soda’s bubbles lightly fizzed in the background. Each bottle represents a narrative of the artist and the community which reared them.
Branding with the arts
In addressing the pARTnership movement, we revisit Warhol:
“A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.” - Andy Warhol
Coke has set an expectation for a product experience, material and immaterial, that resonates across demographics and permeates mass culture.
Small and medium sized businesses can also build their own consumer’s brand expectations by calling out the cultural attributes from the community that differentiate them.
To learn more about arts and business partnerships, contact a member of Americans for the Arts Private Sector team.
Photo Credit: Coca-Cola Company.com, May 6, 2017