Written by: Iva Blažević, Media Planner, Direct Media Zagreb
Consumers today are overwhelmed with classic advertising methods, and in the abundance of the same materials, they no longer even pay attention to them. A great major task facing all of us who work in advertising is to find ways to reach the target audience. However, if this is challenging for brands, what is it like for cultural institutions? And since consumers’ attention is dissipated, how can a cultural institution, with a limited budget, reach its target audience and introduce itself to its prospective, but also existing users? One of the ways is certainly through unconventional communication.
Marketing, as we all know, does not have to be expensive to be successful, but if we talk about unconventional communication, originality is the first condition to be noticed. Unconventional communication, as the name itself implies, is not a popular way of addressing the public. It is increasingly used by cultural institutions facing financial difficulties, and such a way of communication appears to be the ideal choice, since in this case a lot can be achieved with a relatively small investment. A showcase of successfully applied unconventional communication and also the leader in this type of communication in the Republic of Croatia is certainly the Croatian National Theater Ivan the noble Zajc in Rijeka, whose provocative way of communicating has more often than not sparked reactions from the public, media and even politicians who were frequently the topic of such communication.
Although the Croatian National Theater Ivan the noble Zajc in Rijeka alludes both to social and political issues through its communication, this does not always have to be one of the goals. Regardless of its intent and the way it is applied, the goal of unconventional communication is to provoke reactions from the public in order to engage and involve it. A good example of this is the Yugoslav Drama Theater in Belgrade, which has decided to draw the attention of the public reminding it how exciting and interesting classical drama is. The Yugoslav Drama Theater has thus used a thought-provoking way to bring the repertoire closer to its prospective audience.
Another brilliant example of a “different” way of addressing target audience is the optical illusion made by JR, a French street artist and photographer, who covered the Louvre’s modernist glass pyramid in black-and-white printed images of the building located behind the pyramid and blocked by it. The idea behind “erasing” the structure was to return the Louvre Museum to its original state when the pyramid did not exist, as well as direct the energy of visitors to the museum itself and its surroundings, rather than the glass pyramid.
The painted mural on the so-called Beauty in Osijek is a good illustration of unconventional communication. The meander-shaped mural was done through cooperation between the Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek and Department of Cultural Studies of the University of Osijek, which wanted to draw the attention of the public to the significance of a great artist originally from Osijek—Julio Knifer.
To sum up, unconventional communication implies a set of advertising and promotional methods that are intended to shock the audience they address. With this kind of promotion, the major role is played by the surprise factor as well as tactical flexibility, while the main emotions aroused by such communication are surprise and shock. Besides provoking reactions from users, it can enhance the image of a cultural institution, but also contribute to the society in general by raising the cultural level of the population as well as developing the economy of cultural institutions.
Although unconventional communication often leads to different kinds of provocation, as well as media reactions, it is undeniable that this very diversity manifests success—by applying the new way of communication, cultural institutions stand out from the rest. Namely, through unconventional communication, a lot is achieved with a relatively small investment, the visibility of a cultural institution increases, and consumers become more engaged and more involved in the activities offered and implemented by cultural institutions.
Brands could be braver and follow many good examples of the unconventional communication used by cultural institutions when interacting with their consumers. Some positive shock and surprise—as a new recipe.