SynopsisTate Britain is an emblem of British culture.But by 2005 it was losing its relevance.The launch of Tate Modern in 2000 had repositioned Tate Britainas classic and institutionalised.Its permanent collection of British art had become over familiarand less appealing.Planning set about addressing this issue by breathing new lifeinto the gallery.Our objective was to make Tate Britain as contemporary as TateModern and to reframe ‘Old’ work through ‘Fresh’ eyes.The delivery of the campaign had to be new and unexpected,for not just Tate Britain but for art galleries as a whole.This paper will show how planning led the process from start tofinish.How it helped to create a paradigm shift in the perception of‘old’ art and modernised Tate Britain.Planning created a breakthrough insight and strategy that led toa brilliantly elastic creative idea.An idea that was successful in boosting both visitor figures andbroadening the gallery’s appeal.
Can you help?In 2005 Tate Britain came to Fallon with a challenge:Can you refresh an old institution and increase visitor frequency at thegallery?We said anything was possible.But we knew we had a tough task on our hands.The gallery is a national institution with a solid reputation for attracting eithertourists or art aficionados.
A bit of backgroundLaunched in 1897, Tate Britain displays the largest collection of British art inthe world; from 1500 to the present day.That is both a good and a bad thing.Good because it’s drenched in history, has enviable kudos and is seen asbeing the ‘best of classic British art’.Bad because many people have an inbuilt perception about what itrepresents.Many see the gallery as traditional, part of the establishment, stuffy and oldschool.Others see it as worthy, educational and dull*.A place many go to only once just to say they’ve ‘done it’.It was our job to make Tate Britain interesting again and create energyaround the gallery.As Tate Director of Communication Will Gompertz said at the time: * Tate Through Visitors Eyes and Fallon Qualitative
"Were working withFallon because we wantto raise the benchmark ingallery marketing. Wewant creative solutionsthat are original andcompelling”.
A double eclipseWe immersed ourselves in their business, read all of their commissionedresearch* and carried out our own groups.The problems were becoming clear.Firstly, the gallery had been overshadowed by the arrival of Tate Modern in2000 which had rapidly become a ‘must see’ attraction.It was seen as cooler, more fashionable and accessible than Tate Britain.It grabbed the headlines and the visitor numbers.This prolific success came at the expense of Tate Britain which became old-fashioned, staid and out-dated – a reference for how art used to be.Secondly, we knew that those who did visit Tate Britain were drawn by itsexhibitions and not the permanent collection that is housed within the gallery.Tate Britain had become a ‘museum’ for art.This was a major problem.To tackle these issues we knew we’d have to trigger a change in attitude andbehaviour.We needed to refocus attention back on Tate Britain and steal some of thelimelight from Tate Modern.Our job was to inspire people to see old art in a new way. * The Anatomy of a Visit/ MEW
Objectives The business context was simple. Tate Britain and its permanent collection had been eclipsed by: • Tate Modern which had repositioned it as old and dull. • Its own exhibitions which were seen as more attractive than the permanent collection. The communication objectives were: • Change the perception of the gallery and its permanent collection. • Increase visitor figures and frequency. To achieve these objectives we knew we’d have to create an idea that would encourage people to reconsider Tate Britain and what it offered. We had to make Tate Britain - and its permanent collection – contemporary again.
An army of culture fansIn 2005 we were told that more people had visited museums and galleriesthan attended football matches.Art fairs were packed out, the home was now seen as a gallery and institutesof learning had become destinations for experience.Art and culture was going through a renaissance.This growing cultural fan base would be our core audience.But we also wanted to target a secondary audience; people who didn’t thinkart was for them.These people were important because the Tate is funded by the governmentand the gallery’s mission is to make ‘art accessible to more people’.In all honesty, this made the job a little harder.But it spurred us on.Our goal was to arrive at an idea that would truly broaden Tate Britain’sappeal.
‘Looking’ to learnWe spent hours at Tate Britain and soaked up all of those great paintings from1500 to the present day.Turner to Blake, Freud to Emin, Bacon to Whiteread.We approached it with one purpose in mind:We wanted to rethink the collection.This was easier said than done.So as planners we immersed ourselves in art.We became culture vultures, visited other galleries in London and read booksby some of the great art critics like Robert Hughes.It was a fascinating journey.
Understanding the normsWe made a series of observations by looking at conventional ways ofbehaviour within the ‘art’ world;1.) ArtistGallery marketing was dominated by the artist being elevated beyond theart.Like a modern day celebrity or ‘cult of the artist’.2.) ContentOther campaigns shone the spotlight on the art itself; from the time period itwas from to the movement it belonged to and its country of origin.3.) TheoryFrom reading books, watching films and speaking to staff at Tate Britain weunderstood how experts analyse art.We found that art criticism is the ‘pursuit of a rational basis for artappreciation’*.This was art from a distance, to be respected, not felt. * Robert Hughes ‘Shock of the New’
Away from the crowdThese, it seemed, were the confines and conventional wisdoms of galleryadvertising that we knew we had to differentiate ourselves from.We decided to revolt against these preconceptions.We didn’t want people to think that Tate Britain attracted a certain type ofperson; educated, academic and knowledgeable about the discipline.We didn’t want the gallery to be seen as elitist and exclusive to ‘those in theknow’.This would further institutionalise the kind of experience offered at TateBritain.We didn’t want to paint the future with the colours of the past and we knewwe’d have to behave differently.It was our aim to make Tate Britain accessible.We noticed contemporary art tapped into the mood or tone of the moment.Modern art felt like it touched our times and reflected our sense of self andsociety.
A new takeArmed with this fresh, modern perspective we re-approached the permanentcollection.We stepped back from study and got ourselves down to Tate Britain andenjoyed the art as individuals.The works (without even knowing their origin) provoked and enthused fromthe inside out.The artist, not the academics or curators, spoke directly through their work.Tolstoy famously once said: “by words a man transmits his thoughts toanother; by means of art he transmits his feelings”.These pieces of art were like portraits of the artists feelings.
The creation of artThe reality was that these artists created masterpieces: • To display their feelings, emotion, and mood. • Connect to other people. • Stimulate an emotional response.All of this meant that art is very much rooted in everyday life.It deals with feelings that we all have in common.So, whether it’s a Turner painted in 1839 or a Freud pained in 1972, that art isas relevant to our day as it was then.Mood, feeling and emotions are timeless.When based on an emotional response, Tate Britain and its permanentcollection were as contemporary as Tate Modern.This was our epiphany.
The insightsWe felt like we had arrived at a place which would help us reframe thepermanent collection and see it through new eyes.We knew that art conveyed something that is here, now.We understood that emotion is the key behind all art.And this is what people relate to (consciously or sub-consciously).Emotions are universal and never change.Therefore all art is contemporary.
A modern art experienceThe idea was to invite the audience to experience the emotional journey of art.We set about creating themes based on universal emotions and made a selectionof ‘Collections’.It was a new way of looking at the permanent collection and provided a relevantand engaging ‘experience’ to a broad group of people.In collaboration with the client we grouped paintings into twenty eclectic‘Collections’ to guide people through the art at the gallery.They suggested a number of personal journeys people could take, responding totheir different moods and feelings, each and every day.We felt people could enjoy art in the same way they enjoy films or books.Sometimes they want silly and at other times profound.Sometimes happy, at other times dark.The ‘Collections’ directed visitors to paintings or exhibits based on whether theywere hung over, newly heartbroken, planning a big meeting or a first date.We produced leaflets which acted as ‘guides’ for people to have in their hands asthey enjoyed the art.They responded to the true story of everyday life; the joy and the heartbreak, thegood and the bad.It was an idea that helped people to make connections between the works of artand made the sprawling Tate Britain an emotional and sensational journey.If you walk into the gallery today you’ll see twenty ‘Collections’ that you canchoose from.Twenty tours for different feelings.Twenty tours for different days.
“Tate Britain’s newset of bespoke toursmake it an idealdestination – nomatter how you’refeeling”.Source: Evening Standard, 21st September 2006
Create yourown ‘Collection’Gallery visitors were given the chance to create their own collection of up tosix works in a competition.The winner’s selection appeared on a leaflet for other visitors to enjoy.We also asked celebrities to create their own collections.Actor and Office star Mackenzie Crook created a ‘Paintings from the OldenDays’ collection with works from William Hogarth, JW Waterhouse and FordMadox Brown.
MediaThe campaign included the creation of twenty ‘Collections’ leaflets.We made long copy outdoor ads; 4 sheets, cross track tube posters andescalator panels.Online we created a ‘make-your-own-collection’ website – responding to theway you felt and what you needed.This media strategy contributed in a number of ways to the campaign:The use of leaflets was an important progression for media. Althoughoutdoor had and did play an important role bringing Tate Britain to a broaderaudience, it did little to physically influence the behaviour of our target.Leaflets provided a perfect means to do this.The first stage was to use them as navigational tools within the gallery as thepublic entered. These would be used, then kept or passed on by visitors.The second stage was to take them to the streets. This provided topicalopportunities by exploiting key calendar dates (e.g. ‘Valentine’s Collection’ inValentine’s edition of Time Out) and tactical opportunities by reachingaudiences in unexpected places at timely moments (e.g. ‘I’m In A HurryCollection’ on Monday, ‘I’m Hung-over Collection’ on Friday leaflets that weredistributed outside key tube stations).
ResultsThe campaign inspired a brilliant 20% increase in visitors (Tate Britainresearch figures).It changed perceptions of the gallery in the mind of consumers with the helpof a major UK PR campaign; which ranged from the Evening Standard to TheDaily Mail.‘Tate Collections’ has won a number of creative awards;Amongst which are the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Best Outdoor Campaign,Poster Campaign of The Year (Campaign), Gold at Art Directors Club, Winnerat London International Awards and Silver at Epica and the Clio Awards.
ConclusionThis paper has set out planning’s contribution to a creative idea that madepeople (and Tate Britain) look through ‘new eyes’ at the gallery’s permanentcollection.By understanding the relationship between art and the public, we were ableto update and refresh Tate Britain.We achieved this by focusing on how art makes people feel.As a result, everyone became free to enjoy Tate Britain on their own terms,depending on their mood.We provided a set of guides (which we called ‘Collections’) that gave peoplean emotional journey through some of the art housed in the gallery.We also invited them to create their own.The idea reframed what Tate Britain offered, was motivating and distinctivefrom the competition.We made the familiar seem new.And a gallery that houses art from 1500 to the present day relevant in today’sworld.‘Tate Collections’ became an invitation open to all and broadened thegallery’s appeal.