• Exceeded attendance and revenue goals by 176%
  • Exceeded new museum membership goals by 50%
  • Exceeded Instagram audience growth goals by 146%


What was the state of the brands business and the marketplace or category in which it competes before the effort began?

Not on the radar as a “must-visit museum”

 Whenever locals or tourists were looking to satisfy their art museum fix in NYC, the Whitney Museum of American Art was usurped by more populist museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – all of whom have expanded their status as the top most visited art museums locally and throughout the world (Metropolitan Museum of Art #3, Museum of Modern Art #13 and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum #51 in the world.)  Off the list as a “must-visit museum”, the Whitney needed to do something different to garner more traffic and increase ticket sales in relation to other museums and during a time when overall museum attendance is in decline. 

Last exhibition in its old building before it temporarily goes dark

The Whitney is closing its current Upper East Side location on October 2014 and moving into a new building in downtown Manhattan in the spring of 2015. This means the museum will have no physical presence for six months, immediately after the Jeff Koons exhibition. To get the public interested in the move, it needed to get on people’s radars and get them to experience the Museum now.


How did we bring the campaign to life?  

To capture the impulsive interest of culture vultures, we used our campaign to make Jeff Koons part of the social dialogue.  We activated their inclination to share their take on the latest, greatest, most happening thing/event/conversation by putting forward a playful point of view about his show at the Whitney for them to latch onto or debate – “A retrospective as audacious as his art”,  “… as revealing as his art”, “… as mesmerizing as his art”.

 We blanketed places throughout the city, upping the Whitney’s outdoor presence to create the sense that a huge cultural event was happening that one shouldn’t miss. Since it was important to get outside the confines of the museum world and get the exhibit on their radar, Jeff Koons and the Whitney were everywhere they turned, from posters on bus shelters, subway station platforms and subway cars that printed JEFF KOONS in oversized, bold font with the OO’s in his last name replaced with different pieces of his thought-provoking artwork, making the Koons name a literal icon to engage the eye and draw attention.

 We also tapped visiting culture vultures in highly trafficked areas and at must see attractions using traditional outdoor advertising to the Bank of America Jumbotron in Times Square.  At the base of the popular High Line attraction, they were met with an oversize poster featuring Jeff Koon’s Balloon Dog sculpture, who appeared to be “lost” to generate further interest.  When they referenced their popular NYC & Co Tourists guide they encountered a Jeff Koons ad, as well as when they searched through Time Out NY.

We amped up the digital spend from previous shows to reach more people when reading articles or already looking for cultural activities, knowing that the primary source for information on cultural attractions is the internet (83%)[1].  Our digital banners ran on New York Magazine’s Entertainment, Art & Design and Vulture sections, IMDB, ABC, and others as well as a synced roadblock that ran on in the Art & Design and Fashion & Style sections.

 To maximize our reach, we focused our PR efforts beyond the typical art press to garner major feature articles in Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, New York Times Arts & Leisure cover story, and a six-page spread in Time Magazine.  We enhanced our print exposure with Jeff Koons ads in NY Magazine and The New Yorker, and Brooklynites could learn about the show via their local BK Magazine and L Magazine.  And anyone turning on the TV saw Jeff Koons on Charlie Rose, Late Night with Seth Meyers, MSNBC Morning Joe, plus a mention on The Today Show.

 We created a surprising partnership. H&M collaborated with the Whitney to surround those shopping at H&M’s major new flagship store on Fifth Avenue with Jeff Koons styled mannequins and his Balloon Dog sculpture in a storefront takeover. The H&M space included Whitney messaging that directed them to see the exhibition, and even sold custom Jeff Koons purses with Whitney tags.

 Lastly, recognizing culture vultures need to share their experiences, picture taking was actively encouraged during the exhibition, which led to thousands of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter uploads of posts.  Most notable was the social phenomena of the #ArtSelfie where people posted reflected images of themselves in Jeff Koons’ artwork.  Even the cultural icon, “Barbie,” found time in her busy schedule to visit the show and take an #ArtSelfie at the Whitney.  To celebrate people’s passion for posting themselves with the art, the Whitney posted a consumer-generated #ArtSelfie picture each week.