How the Art Institute of Chicago put Van Gogh’s bedroom on AirBnB
Chicago guidebooks invariably list The Art Institute as a must visit landmark. Some of the most famous paintings in the western tradition from such artists as Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Seurat, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin and many more are part of its world-class collection.
However, we live in an era where digital natives can find a video of just about anything in the world that’s worth watching on youtube: from breaking news, to instruction on any subject from top universities around the world, to virtual visits of remote locations. People are spending more and more time online, shopping, socializing and getting entertained. We connect as much as we ever did, but now on snapchat, instead of in person.
A brilliant approach to embracing the challenge of addressing digital natives is the marketing campaign that The Art Institute came up with together with their ad agency. The goal was to quickly create buzz for a short-lived special exhibition showcasing Van Gogh’s paintings. They recreated Van Gogh’s bedroom and made it available on AirBnB to rent for a night. An interactive exhibit was also created to engage visitors in the experience of sleeping in the space as rendered through Van Gogh’s artistic vision, surrounded by familiar objects from the painting.
The bid to tap into the post consumerist, experience-oriented ethos that has led travellers all over the world to embrace AirBnB’s lodgings over traditional hotels was successful. Travelers using AirBnB make the choice to enrich their travel experience by connecting with locals and getting an inside view of where they live, sleep and relax.
For The Art Institute of Chicago, focusing on creating a memorable experience and helping visitors connect with the artist, resulted in more than 500 million media impressions and $6 million in earned media as well the largest daily exhibition attendance in 15 years. It’s a great example of how analyzing and speaking to your targeted audience’s established interests can revitalize your brand and update the market you serve.