What can museums do in terms of marketing? Can art be promoted through innovative ways? I was thinking about it one day and because of my strong curiosity, I started searching for my favorite museum in the world-MoMA, and was so impressed by how MoMA’s marketing strategies changed over time with the growth of the digital marketing and technology. In the past, MoMA’s marketing strategies focused more on print advertising. However, MoMA currently only spends 20% of the marketing budget on its print ads and focuses more on digital marketing. Let’s see some of the most cutting-edge digital marketing plans from the early days to the recent.
The Earlier Days’ Marketing Strategies
1. The Engaging Museum Brochure- Fall at MoMA. Plan Accordingly. (2004)
In 2004, MoMA created a print ad on New York Times. It was designed by Christophe Niemann. This print advertisement was also optimized for MoMA’s website. The online version allowed people to interact and get more information about the exhibition. In the past, museums’ visitors usually got information from museum’s brochures with text-based information which could hardly generate deep engagement. However, with technology’s help, a museum calendar can be much more interesting and interactive!
2. Talk about Art and Real Life by Real People-Art Mobs & “I See” Campaign (2005/2009)
In history, the art piece was often defined and introduced by professionals or curators. However, the technology provided people different ways to experience art. MoMA cooperated with students at Marymount Manhattan College. Art students and professors recorded short podcasts with their discussion of art pieces. Visitors could download the podcast and listen to the unique audio guide in the MoMA museum. One of the participants described his experiences of Art Mob’s tour as funnier than the normal tour in MoMA. The director of this program, Gilbery said this idea came from Lessig’s book Remix. He believed that “with technology, the ability to sample and remix has been democratized”. Another similar idea was conveyed in another campaign, “I See”. The campaign featured a man standing in front of an art piece. When he was listening to the tour guide, he started to reflect the art piece into human’s real daily life experiences. As a modern art museum, MoMA differentiated itself from others by offering people a new way to enjoy and interpret the art.
New Marketing Tactics with Social Medias and New Technologies
3. A Beautiful Gallery Now on Your iPad-MoMA AB EX NY App (2010)
In 2010, MoMA launched MoMA “AB EX NY ” app. It’s an app designed to be used outside of the museum. Users could learn about “Abstract Expressionist” and its relationship with the New York City. When the idea first came out, some of MoMA employees were hesitant to create an informative app. They were unsure if it is “marketing” enough. However, the greatest value of this app was found to be the fact that it provided education outside of the museum. Museum could now be intangible and good content should not be location-based. It also allowed users to share information on Twitter. The app strengthened MoMA’s brand image as a modern and edgy organization. Last but not least, it’s so beautifully designed that even Apple bought the image for its print ad!
4. What and How does MoMA change you? – I went to MoMA and…(2011)
I went to MoMA was launched in 2011. MoMA would like to learn visitors’ overall experiences about the museum. It simply started with providing pencils and white papers for visitors to write down their experiences. The event was so successful that MoMA decided to turn it into digital. Participants could scan the paper and get a URL link that enabled them to share on social media. The main website has been collecting all the comments and this project hasn’t ended till now! It’s amazing that MoMA disclosed the negative comments as well. Some not-so-positive comments were also shown on the wall outside of MoMA. The marketing strategy not only encouraged visitors to share their experiences but created a “personality” for MoMA. It’s interesting to note that MoMA didn’t only attract audiences by the collection it has, but the personality of the museum!
5. Art & Big Data -#ART140(2014)
Brands love hashtags, so did MoMA! MoMA cooperated with Possible and launched #Art140 in 2014. Participants could select randomly from 140 art pieces chosen by MoMA and tweeted what these pieces meant to them. On each painting, only the artist, date and the title of the painting were listed out. Viewers could view what people responded to the art piece on the website. Moreover, #Art140 analyzed vocabularies tweeted in each tweet and created graphics to show people’s general feelings about the art. This social media marketing plan engaged and inspired people to express their true feelings of art in an innovative way! The strategy again successfully inspired more people to learn and discuss art.