For Art’s Sake

The Asia Society blasts the Taliban’s destruction of art in a PSA being made available this week from StreetSmart Advertising in New York.

The 30-second spot, narrated by 60 Minutes’ Morley Safer, shows footage of the demolition of the Bamayan Buddha statues from the third century. Safer’s voiceover explains, “You’re invited to see 460 other works of art they’ll never get their hands on.”

The idea came from StreetSmart founder and art director Peter Cohen and writer Jay Taub. (Cohen is a creative group head at Lowe in New York by day; he started Street Smart, a creative shop that specializes in public service, in 1990.)

The StreetSmart team had been doing posters for the Asia Society when it proposed the spot. At the time, “I told them I couldn’t afford to produce, much less run, a commercial,” said Karen Karp, vp of marketing and communications for the society.

But by getting the volunteer services of Safer and releasing the spot as a public service, the team hopes the PSA will be picked up by stations in the tristate area. “It’s a powerful and timely commercial,” said Cohen. “And [Safer] elevates it beyond the typical PSA.”