Brands Are Obsessed With Banksy’s Shredded Painting. Here’s How They’re Co-Opting It

A critic of capitalism becomes a marketing muse

Image credits, from left: Lemonade Insurance, Perrier and Ikea Norway
Headshot of David Griner

As the great philosopher James Tiberius Kirk once said: “There will always be those who mean to do us harm. To stop them, we risk awakening the same evil within ourselves.”

This week, Banksy must surely be wondering if he has fueled the very machine of late-stage capitalism that he famously despises. The iconic street artist made headlines by remotely shredding his own painting shortly after it sold at auction for $1.4 million, which many hailed as a potent statement against consumerism and the elite’s hoarding of art.

But the stunt also inspired marketing-minded creatives around the world to take a stab at their own shredding-inspired visuals, promoting brands like McDonald’s and Ikea.

Yesterday we looked at how two McDonald’s agencies had gotten in front of the meme by turning Banksy’s half-shredded image into an ode to french fries, but lots more homages have surfaced since then. Let’s take a look at the highs, lows and all-around oddities.

The Best of the Lot

DDB Vienna, part of the agency network that often works with McDonald’s around the world, was not only one of the first, but also one of the best  when it comes to branded Banksy riffs. The minimalism works well, even if the whole McDonald’s-loving-Banksy scenario is a bit bizzare.

While many have rightly noted that Banksy almost certainly increased the value of his painting by shredding it so publicly (and still, conveniently, leaving it in situ), millennial-focused insurer Lemonade found a clever way to insert itself into the conversation:

Ikea is well known for newsjacking viral stories, such as when its agency Acne created an overnight ad mocking fashion house Balenciaga’s $2,145 knockoff of the retailer’s 99-cent shopping bag. So it’s no surprise that Ikea has jumped onto the Banksy story in a few different ways.

The best iteration from the brand is this DIY-themed piece from Norway, created by agency SMFB:

Playing With the Metaphor

Unlike consumer brands, some art-focused businesses actually took Banksy’s message to heart. Spanish design shop Kaikoo Studio created this simple metaphor for art over money:

While it wasn’t created as marketing, I also liked the simplicity of this homage, shared by Mexican creative Cindy Guzmán under the heading “Mood on Tuesday”:

Perrier’s animation game is on point here, even if the visual metaphor is a bit of a leap:

They Made An Attempt

Try not to overthink this piece of content from regional chain Tire Discounters. The mental image is amusing. The actual image is something else.

Hong Kong’s Mazu Resortwear made an effort. That’s about as much as you can say for it.

While it’s admittedly not the prettiest mockup, this post from Ireland’s brand of supermarket chain Lidl was a hit with followers, earning more than 1,600 likes. There’s a certain charm to it, like one of your parents texting you their own version of a Banksy joke:

Late Arrivals

Below are a few that have come in since we first published this roundup.

Finland’s Tax Administration got in on the act to promote the end of something called the tax card for secondary income:

I’m not entirely sure what’s being communicated in this outdoor piece from out-of-home ad network JCDecaux in Norway, but it seems to be promoting art for sale on marketplace

And while it’s from an agency and not a brand, I enjoyed watching WongDoody co-founder Tracy Wong get the Banksy treatment:

Notice any we missed? Hit me up on Twitter at @Griner and I’ll decide if it’s worth adding to our gallery of shredded art.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."