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What Immersive Van Gogh Can Teach Us About Modern Marketing

Recently, I had the great pleasure of attending the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Minneapolis. Peeks of the project had crossed my social path on several occasions across platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. I’ve always enjoyed wandering through art galleries but this was art on a different level. A cross section of classic and contemporary, the experience delivered — and acted as a metaphor for what great modern marketing should look and act like.

What is Immersive Van Gogh?
Van Gogh is a staple of any art class. His starry nights and self portraits are still some of the most beloved and recognizable art in the world. This immersive art gallery is a modern take on the famous post-impressionist painter and currently open for visitors in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Upon arrival, you enter an expansive room and are instantly surrounded by two stories of swirling sunflowers, dancing stars, and smoking skulls. For about 30 minutes, a film plays across the surrounding walls showcasing van Gogh’s best work.

When we say film, it’s more like you’re swimming in art. Seriously, at one point a water landscape ripples around you feeling so real you have to check your hair is dry. In other moments, a breeze blows a woman’s hair, doodles turn into full-fledged paintings, and trees grow before your eyes.

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It’s stunning.

All the while the music lifts the experience and evokes emotions of joy and wonder. As it crescendos, flowers and fields erupt in bloom. Each brush stroke comes into focus highlighting how small parts can create a masterpiece. It’s truly a unique way to experience art.

And the whole place would also make a great spot for a Bond film fight scene. (Just imagine the villain taking over all the screens at once.) Sorry, storyteller with an overflowing imagination over here. Carry on.

Besides the movie potential, it’s also a perfect example of marketing in the modern age. Not just because the project itself is selling out every city it visits, it’s also an example of elevated storytelling. Here’s a few marketing lessons anyone can take away from Immersive Van Gogh.

When others zig, have your brand zag. This sentiment was made famous by Marty Neumeier in Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands. Zag means that when all your competitors are doing things a certain way — do the opposite. While any van Gogh art gallery would make waves just on name recognition alone, giving it a digital twist makes it newsworthy and fresh. How can you take the usual marketing approach in your industry and flip it?


Create an Experience
Event marketing took a bit of a hit during COVID, but hosting moments that people can interact with virtually and in person is a promising way to show off your brand. The more senses you engage, the more memorable your story will be. Some local examples of this is when LuluLemon offered treadmill trials and gave away free leggings and when Doritos dropped bags of a new flavor of chip in Duluth. I still see friends reshare posts from this last event.

That leads to the next biggie.

Make It Shareable
We are all for appreciating the moment, but in our world of sharing your life with the world, it’s a no brainer. People love to share unique moments and the van Gogh exhibit perfectly fits the bill. I never saw a single advertisement or article about the show. It popped up on my feed and the visuals sold me on going. By creating moments people want to share and highlight your brand, you’re making marketing magic. And getting free press.

Provide Takeaways
After you emerge from the gallery you’re met with a sea of goods. Any art gallery knows that it’s not just about the admission tickets, it’s about the gift shop. How can you bring this thinking to your work? What product do people come for and what is an extra thing you can sell them out the door. Just make sure it’s relevant and useful.

Embrace Technology
We love staring at paintings but there’s definitely something amazing about laying on the ground and being immersed from all sides by art. This experience was possible thanks to virtual projection technology. We’re not saying you need a whole gallery but how can you embrace little things like AR apps in your brand experience? It doesn’t have to be perfect but don’t let the novelty scare you away.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Although embracing change can be nerve wracking, it doesn’t have to be a cannonball. Dip your toes and test things out. It’s better to try a little bit and learn a lot than do nothing at all and stay stagnant. We believe playing with ideas and technology is the best way to find the right answer.

If you want to embrace a more creative direction for your brand and marketing, we can help. Connect today.