MOCA Visits L.A. Neighborhoods

A branding campaign from TBWAChiatDay for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles draws on the city’s well-entrenched image as a place not readily associated with museums.

The marketing effort is the most aggressive in the history of the 21-year-old museum, comprising 60 billboards as well as TV and radio spots. Targeting consumers 25-34, the campaign is decidedly offbeat.

“MOCA is about art that breaks the rules,” said museum director Jeremy Strick. “This campaign can do the same.”

Officials at the museum said TBWACD is MOCA’s first lead ad agency, handling creative and media duties on the estimated $1 million account. The work launched on New Year’s Day.

“This project is so unadvertising—that’s one of the reasons we think this is so different,” said Gary Topolew ski, executive creative director at TBWACD in Playa del Rey, Calif.

The TV spots and billboards play off the labels that appear next to works of art in museums. Also, the boards are being placed strategically in the community, and often refer to landmarks nearby.

One board, for instance, appears just above a Hollywood strip club called Crazy Girls. The text reads: “Nudes, 2001. Bodies, dimensions variable. A study of First Amendment rights, entertainment and business all acting in concert to provide a debate among lawyers, politicians and the general public.”

The last line on each ad is, “On loan from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.”

Three TV spots are modeled after the billboards, and also feature text without images. One sports the lines, “The Demise of Culture, 2001. Glass, plastic, metal, wires. A large black box sits prominently in the living room, signifying one doesn’t just arrange one’s life around the box but also one’s furniture.”

The box, of course, is the television set.