Why These Museum Ads With Will Ferrell Make Me Really, Really Mad

The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum commissioned a campaign from creative agency Imaginary Forces to celebrate its renovation. They somehow got Will Ferrell to help them out, and from there, it's pretty clear they didn't know what to do. They got access to one of the funniest men in America, someone who could have catapulted their campaign to instant Internet hilarity and stardom. And they wasted him. 

You’ll Dig These Scratch-Off Bus Shelter Ads for ‘Art as Archaeology’ Museum Show

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago has employed scratch-off advertising on bus shelters around the city to hype its newest exhibition, The Way of the Shovel: Art as Archaeology. The ads were printed on backlit, clear plastic. Scratching off the opaque topcoat reveals cool artwork underneath.

Now You Can Tweet to a Plant. For Science.

Does talking to plants really help them grow? It's a question that, I'm sure, keeps us all awake at night. Luckily, Carmichael Lynch and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science have launched a social experiment (and marketing effort) called "Talk to a Plant," to probe this very issue.

‘WTF’ Are You Looking At, Asks Campaign for Toronto’s Museums and Historic Sites

The city of Toronto is offering prizes as part of its "What the Fact?" campaign promoting local museums and historic sites to young people. Unfortunately, those prizes are passes to the museums and sites in question, which should squash any interest among the target audience. Kidding, of course. But my snarky intro illustrates a very real problem facing the client: How do you market museums to a fickle audience that basically lives online? Its answer is a campaign in 100 area bus shelters and online, headlined by the slogan "WTF?" in bold letters. The ads show historic artworks, soldiers' uniforms and other exhibits, and invite people to go to Facebook and guess what each item might be. Correct guesses get you free passes, which will be awarded once the campaign ends on Sept. 10, when the artifacts' identities will also be revealed. "We wanted to find a way we could reach out to the general public and ideally a younger audience," museum services program designer Ilena Aldini-Messina tells the Toronto Star. "We find that social media is a great way to reach out to that audience." Kudos for embracing interactivity, and for the quasi-questionable "WTF?" headline, which has predictably ruffled some feathers in the Great White North and generated free publicity for the cause. According to Inside Toronto, the campaign has already been shared or commented on 1,200 times—though I'm not convinced that will translate into more young people patronizing local museums and historic sites in the long run. The youthful target audience probably plans to sell the tickets to get cash for beer and earbuds.

Ads for Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum Wish You a Very Uncomfortable Summer

Up for a hot-dog bun full of worms? A pair of firecracker Speedos? How about a skewer through the nipple? You can get them all at Pittsburgh's Warhol Museum—in its summer 2013 ad campaign from MARC USA. The new work features traditional summertime imagery retooled to be more provocative, in keeping with much of the Warhol Museum's collection itself. (In fact, the ads are tame by comparison—which is just as well, since they need to get people in the door, not running from it.) "Summer's Different Here," says the copy on the vintage-postcard-style ads, which promote summer exhibitions spotlighting the work of three artists—musician and visual artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, photographer Caldwell Linker and sculptor/tattoo artist Nick Bubash. "In looking at what unites all these very different artists, we quickly understood that their works are meant to provoke and make you uncomfortable," says MARC USA creative director Josh Blasingame. "Our campaign built on that idea by looking at ordinary icons of summer and showing how they could be made more than a little uncomfortable." The campaign, running June through September, includes outdoor, print ads, digital banners and actual postcards. More images below.

Denver Cabs Outfitted With Mammoth Tusks to Promote Museum Exhibit

The taxicabs in Denver are a bit hornier than usual, and it's all science's fault. Carmichael Lynch put ornamental mammoth tusks on a fleet of cabs to drum up attention for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's "Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age" exhibit. The cool thing about this idea is that when the exhibit ends, they can keep the tusks and do cab jousts for charity.

Chicago Agencies Teaching Kids Creativity Through Cardboard

The Chicago Children's Museum has an exhibit called "Unboxed: Adventures in Cardboard," inviting children to "discover the limitless potential of this deceptively simple material." To advertise it, Energy BBDO and Xi (formerly Proximity Chicago) have created Mister Imagine's Toy Store, a one-week-onl

Ad of the Day: Smithsonian

The Smithsonian Institution is known primarily for housing historic artifacts—everything from George Washington's sword to Dorothy's ruby slippers. But that's a musty legacy—nothing feels new or dynamic about the Smithsonian.

Neil Armstrong Saluted in Denver Science Museum’s Tribute Ad

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science put together this nice tribute ad this week to Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, who died Saturday at age 82. Simple, great print work by Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis. Credits below.

L.A. Billboard Fits Pleasantly Into Its Natural Surroundings

Huge Roman numerals floating in the sky—the End Times are nigh! Actually, it's a billboard by artist Cayetano Ferrer touting an exhibition at the Hammer Museum titled "Made in L.A.