Banff Centre of Arts and Creativity turns ads into art form by going weird

In its most expensive marketing campaign in years, the centre is attempting to build awareness of its role as a hub for arts and creativity.

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A tube of paint, when squeezed, extrudes not pigment but a sinewy human leg. A man listens to headphones made out of two halves of his own screaming face. An elderly man kneels on all fours in his underwear as a stoic pianist opens up his back like a lid, revealing piano keys. When played, the man chants in a gravelly bass and emits inhuman noises.

If any of these images from the new nationwide ad campaign for Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity make you wonder what on earth you just saw, that’s the point.

In its most expensive marketing campaign in years, the centre is attempting to build awareness of its role as a hub for arts and creativity. So part of the goal is to emulate art in the advertising itself: Depending on the viewer, it may be laughable, beautiful, baffling, or just plain weird. It may seem inscrutable. It will raise questions about its intentions.

“I’m not banking on just one emotion. Depending on where you’re at, you can read into it,” said Carlos Moreno, chief creative officer at ad agency Cossette, which created the campaign.

“It was important to me that the campaign itself look like something that an artist would create, versus having a commercial appeal,” said Janice Price, president and CEO of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. “Art should not feel like a barrier, or I couldn’t possibly understand it. To me, it says, okay this could be kind of fun and quirky and makes me want to learn more.”

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