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Commerce and culture are becoming ever more closely intertwined. Yet our
understanding of why and how commercial brands engage in cultural partnerships
and which brands are strongest in what we call “cultural citizenship” is vague at best.

The inaugural Cultural Citizenship Survey is a first step in addressing this
knowledge gap. With findings from a poll of 50 international experts drawn from the
Experts see a worlds of art, marketing, and branding, it begins to map the rarely-studied—and
often misunderstood­—connections between brands and the arts.
major increase
Among the findings in this first report: Experts see a major increase in engagement
in engagement of consumer brands with arts and culture over the past decade. Such engagement

of consumer is generally perceived to be positive, for both the arts and for brands. Fashion,
financial services, spirits, and automotive industries are leading the way in their
brands with engagement with the culture sector.

arts and culture The observations here are based on (1) soft data gleaned from open-ended
questions in our late-2016 online survey; (2) hard data based on multiple-choice
over the past questions and indicators of brands’ cultural engagement, along with numeric
rankings of 57 culturally active brands; and (3) in-depth research on current trends
decade. and practices in the field.

Future studies will take the temperature of our anonymous expert panel to describe
year-on-year trends in the context of further analyses of brand engagement in
culture. We will evaluate the cultural activities of specific brands and create indexed
rankings of the world’s leading cultural-citizen brands.
An Expanding Field Why is there increasing brand
Responses from the international arts, involvement? Simply put, brands profit
marketing, and branding experts in from these relationships in the currency
our poll offer a snapshot of current of reputation, awareness, and trust.
professional attitudes about links The “development and expansion of
between arts and brands. Taken the field of artist-brand collaborations,”
...brands profit together, the answers suggest that an advertising executive noted,
brand engagement with the arts is “is tied to the rise of experiential
from these clearly on the rise. This is generally marketing.” A veteran of magazines
and art-business marketing tied the
relationships welcomed—on both sides.
rise of art engagement to systemic
changes in brand communications. “As
in the currency “When done well, and with an eye to
the integrity of the art and institutions the print industry declines and ad-
of reputation, that support it, and with a long-term blocking becomes more sophisticated,
brands will increasingly turn to ‘soft
plan for sustainability,” said one
awareness, and respondent, “this kind of patronage is diplomacy.’” For brands, “art and
culture are the only way to really gain
positive.” A marketing manager with
trust. experience in the art and music worlds power and transcend time,” noted a
put it this way: “Overall, I think it is a luxury marketing expert.
good thing that brands want to take
part in the arts discourse. It opens Several of the respondents took note
up the art world to new distribution of an “increase in quality and depth
channels, ideas, audiences, and of brands’ engagement,” along with
possibilities.” growing “diversity of business sectors
engaged in the arts.” The visual arts,
especially, are attracting interest from
CHANGE IN engagement of consumer brands commercial brands. As a strategist
with arts and culture in the past decade and creative director for luxury and
consumer brands put it: “Today, the
contemporary art scene has become
what cinema was in the fifties and
sixties, fashion in the eighties and
nineties. ... Simply, it is mega-cool.
Hence, aspirational brands all jump on
the train.”

Not all economic sectors participate
equally in art-brand collaborations,
according to the experts. Among 18
industries ranked in this initial poll,
fashion, finance, spirits, and auto
makers came out on top. Among the
laggards: airlines, consumer packaged
goods, information technology, heavy
industry, and media and publishing.

The respondents identified the benefits
of brand collaborations for artists
this way: “Projects sponsored by
brands often provide an opportunity to

realize projects that would otherwise too commercial, which can dilute or
be cost-prohibitive.” The combined damage the value/reputation of art.”
effect of such “brand involvement An arts communications professional
and patronage is absolutely necessary cautioned that a “quantitative increase
for a sustainable art world,” wrote in brands’ engagement with the arts
one respondent. Another added, “Art can lead to a decrease in the quality of
institutions often lack the capital to engagement.”
commission, while individual collectors
and brands have the potential to offer Brands can become too pushy, an
both deep pockets and wide audiences arts communications expert warned,
that extend beyond the art world.” attempting to “influence what cultural
Moreover, brand involvement in the arts organizations are doing.” If this goes
“helps legitimize (ironically) culture to a too far, then “alignment of art with
large segment of the general public that luxury branding runs the risk of
would otherwise be neither interested diminishing art to baubles.” The same
nor aware.” respondent added: “Art is about ideas,
not product.”

VIEWS ON BRANDS’ TAKING AN ACTIVE ROLE Brands still face hurdles as they try to
IN ARTS AND CULTURAL PATRONAGE collaborate in the cultural sphere. “I
think one of the biggest struggles in this
field is to get away from the knee-jerk
reactions that so many well-meaning art
lovers have to corporate involvement in
the arts,” noted a business development
consultant. “Better, smarter engagement
is how this can be done.”

Some of those who answered the poll
predicted that brand engagement may
decrease in the years to come, for
“reasons of compliance” and because
“more budget will be channeled
towards education.” More likely
perhaps, brands can get turned off by
the attitude of established institutions
which see them only as sources of
funds, not as genuine collaborators.
“Many companies will turn toward
spaces outside the museum,” a
respondent suggested.

Our respondents agree: The
complexion of the relationship between
Terms of Engagement cultural entities and brands is changing
The current vogue for brand-arts fast. Arguably the most important
collaborations, however, invites realignment, several experts noted,
some measured skepticism. As one is the “shift from patronage/pure
respondent put it, there is a “risk of philanthropy to marketing,” and “from
too much—i.e., too many brands, ‘traditional’ cash-for-logo sponsorship

toward tailored initiatives.” Corporate just as important, its self-image. This
patrons view “sponsorship” with happens when “a brand has the
disdain. “Sponsorship is a transaction capacity to install the art mentality in
of budget,” noted an international its way of working,” a marketing expert
corporation’s cultural chief, whereas responsible for the positioning of global
“partnership is an interaction between luxury brands wrote. “For example,
people. Sponsorship is a word that understanding how artists do their
does a disservice.” research, how they connect to trends,
understand their creative process.”
TOP TEN Indicators of Corporate Arts Citizenship
High-end brands, in particular, benefit
when a deep alignment with culture
1 Number of years active in the arts “changes completely the perception of
2 Total expenditure on arts projects per year the brand and its products, and hence
the brand can exercise a much higher
3 Degree to which company’s own pr includes arts and culture price premium.” However, the same
4 Existence of a foundation solely or wholly dedicated to the arts expert reminded, to achieve such a
premium, “one needs to give strong
5 Number of in-house staff engaged in arts engagement meaning and enhance the storytelling
of the brand.”
6 Degree to which arts institutions display company name/brand in ads

7 Arts expenditure as percentage of total company revenue But for brands, simply engaging with
culture is not enough. Brands need to
8 Existence and number of cultural facilities named after company/brand
absorb, integrate, and communicate
9 Existence of a corporate art collection their cultural citizenship. As a business
executive in the poll argued, the
10 Size or value of corporate art collection
rewards of engagement will accrue
to those willing to “incorporate the
importance of the arts and society
Moving from “sponsorship” to (community) into the public corporate
“partnership” demands adjustments ethos and formal mission statements,
on both sides. Brands must acquire and, extremely important, incorporate
expertise and act thoughtfully in the art the supported art (or art form) into

cultural world. Cultural institutions must accept
that they alone cannot define the terms
public expressions of the brand.”
An art writer and editor put it this
citizenship of engagement. Still, experienced arts
and marketing professionals emphasize
way: cultural citizenship needs to be
“distilled throughout the ethos of a
needs to be that brands should understand company.”
their role as cultural citizens. They
“distilled shouldn’t aspire to replace established The survey asked the experts about
institutions as cultural arbiters. The some of the relevant indicators of
throughout same corporate executive summarized cultural citizenship. Interestingly, their
the situation this way: “It’s all good, answers pointed toward many different
the ethos of a as long as brands don’t define the factors, but prioritized few of them.
Among the most frequently marked
company.” content.”
indicators of engagement were “total
expenditure on the arts per year,”
Engaging Deeply “number of years active in the arts,”
Engagement with art and culture can the “degree to which a company’s
enhance a brand’s entire image—and PR includes art and culture,” and

the “existence of separate foundation a mark of strong cultural citizenship, it
wholly or partially dedicated to the is uncertain “if it hits the bottom line in
arts.” Future reports will address which the way companies now expect these
of these variables (and others) are the dollars to operate.”
most meaningful.
Brands have long been associated
with corporate collections—for good
What Works for Brands? reason. Art projects sophistication
Do brands benefit more from designing and creativity. But most of today’s
their own arts initiatives, supporting public companies, especially in the
organizations’ projects, starting art US, can ill afford to justify collections.
ARTS ACTIVITIES FROM WHICH collections, or developing art editions? Still, as a manager of a corporate art
BRANDS BENEFIT THE MOST These are strategic resource-allocation initiative of an international luxury
questions for brands seeking to forge a brand suggested, collections offer
1 Corporate art intiatives connection with the arts. both “external benefits,” such as
being noticed by clients, and “internal
2 Corporate sponsorships Each brand must find its way to the benefits” that enhance a company’s
3 Corporate collections form of collaboration that suits it best— work environment.
depending on a company’s heritage,
4 Art editions budget, and target audience. Unique, Several respondents said brands
obtain the best results from art editions
5 Other large-scale art initiatives tailored around
a brand’s core values promise a major that link artistic work to products of
reputational impact. However, such the brand, because “they carry more
initiatives also demand major financial prestige” and “provide a premium
and human resources, and therefore profit, as well as efficient PR coverage,
tend to be the privilege of the powerful and brand awareness for new
brands that can manage them. audiences.” Here too, though, brands
must make choices. “The trick is to
A foundation, an art award, or other work with great artists who also have
long-term undertaking is the most some legitimacy in the art world, but
likely to be noticed in the art world and can cross over into the consumer world
by the general public. Nonetheless, easily,” said a cultural manager who
not all brands have the capacity or has connected artists with brands.
bandwidth to mount such efforts.
Moreover, “creating something in your In the end, many experts are agnostic
own image risks appearing to be more about how brands should exercise
about you than the patronage you their cultural role. Each one must find
are trying to demonstrate,” observed the right fit. As one response in the
one respondent. “Supporting great poll summed up the matter, “brands
organizations that align with your own benefit most from those activities with
values can be equally valid as creating broader reach/visibility (the format is
your own.” secondary)”—as long as those activities
align with the brand’s values.
Direct project or exhibition sponsorship
has “the advantage of being
constructed around an event or an Conclusions:
institution to which clients can be Trends to Watch
taken … something tangible rather Multiple factors shape the respect and
than fluffy goodwill.” However, others exposure a brand will accrue through
warn that while project support can be cultural citizenship: “Is a brand directly

working with or supporting artists? Is a successful?” “What impact does arts
brand supporting new artistic practice? engagement have on sales?” “How
Providing much-needed funds? Is a transparent should sponsors’ goals be
brand taking risks that institutions to the public?” “How can companies
might not be willing to take?” If one avoid the stigma of ‘buying’ their
driver should be singled out, it would way into the arts?” “How do brands
No one can be “consistent, long-term, multi- balance the grass roots/emerging
pronged engagement with a particular practitioner support with the high-
doubt that issue or institution.” profile sponsorship initiatives?” “Does
the wider audience see the value of
art-brand No one can doubt that art-brand these partnerships?”

engagement is engagement is a dynamic and quickly
shifting field at the forefront of cultural The stakes are high, and there is
a dynamic and and marketing practice. Even so, many
questions remain unanswered as art-
much to be gained, but also much at
risk—on both sides. “This is a very
quickly shifting brand collaborations gather steam. important conversation for our culture,
our citizens, and the companies/
field... Some of the questions our experts brands that serve and depend upon
wish to learn about include: “What them,” a survey respondent noted.
specifically do companies hope We will address these timely questions
to gain by investing in the arts?” about cultural citizenship in our future
“What metrics are used to determine reports.
whether a particular collaboration was

For this survey of cultural citizenship, Culture Projects develops and publishes prepared by Culture Projects for
we invited 50 anonymous international original research and insight into its Cultural Citizenship Project.
arts, brands, and marketing experts current trends in arts and culture and The information contained herein
to fill out an online poll. We asked offers strategic counsel to institutions, is based on sources believed to
12 questions—eight closed-ended companies, and government entities be reliable. However, we do not
and four open-ended ones. The seeking to maximize the value of their accept any liability for any loss
data analysis in this report was engagement with the arts. or damage resulting from its use.
derived mostly from the former, and The information contained herein
although 50 responses may not be CULTURAL CITIZENSHIP PROJECT represents best efforts to compile
representative of all brand and cultural The Cultural Citizenship Project provides data based on available information
specialists, the high response rates for fact-based analyses of engagement and information and opinions
each question mean that all numbers between commercial brands and the provided by the participants in
used in this report are significant arts, drawing on the opinions of an our survey. All experts in the poll
(p<=.05). The initial list of 57 brands anonymous panel of international will remain anonymous. This
was compiled on the basis of desk experts and quantitative assessment of document is not intended for
research and preliminary input from polling and business data. distribution, publication, or use
experts. Future studies will expand the in any jurisdiction where such
number of included brands. We do Project Lead Partners: distribution, publication, or use
not claim that the list here represents András Szántó, Ian Charles Stewart, would be unlawful, nor is it aimed
all culturally active brands. We invite Adam Levine at any person or entity to whom it
brands seeking to be included in the Research Analyst: Masha Sergeeva would be unlawful to address such
analysis to contact Culture Projects. Contact: info@cultureprojects a document.

All data, conclusions and materials Copyright Culture Projects ©Culture Projects.
Statistical inferences from 50 Which Brands are Noticed Which Got the Highest
individuals—even when they for their Cultural Ranking Overall?
are experienced artists, museum Engagement? Familiarity with a brand’s cultural
and gallery leaders, marketing Respondents were asked to rate engagement is one thing. What
and PR executives, and widely 57 brands. They were not asked to respondents think about the brand’s
published authors—understandably score all of them, only the ones they engagement is another. When it comes
have limitations. Moreover, the knew enough about to rate. Thus, the to the average rankings received from
respondents in this survey evaluated number of rankings can be read as respondents who were familiar with a
brands from a predetermined list a proxy for “awareness” of a brand’s brand’s cultural engagement—what we
of 57, which is a strong sample, cultural engagement. In terms of such call expert ranking—the top five brands
but not a comprehensive one. cultural-citizenship awareness, the turned out to be UBS, BMW, Deutsche
Importantly, the results reflect leading brand in our list—i.e., the one Bank, Louis Vuitton, and Sotheby’s,
scoring by the expert panel, not scored by most respondents—was in that order. These brands, in other
a composite index informed by Absolut. The Swedish vodka brand that words, are held in the highest esteem
a range of weighted indicators. was a pioneer in art-based marketing for their cultural activities by those
Future reports will delve into data was followed by Bloomberg (a company who know their activities well enough
in greater depth. Meanwhile, some with strong philanthropic ties and a to provide a score. (It is important to
initial quantitative conclusions can celebrity owner). Three brands—UBS, remind: Only brands on the list were
be gleaned with a robust level of Louis Vuitton, and Sotheby’s—tied for ranked.)
confidence. the third position in the level of cultural-
engagement awareness.


Which Brands Stand Out in How Is Awareness Related to most recognized brands—it scored
their Industry? Ratings? sixth in awareness in our poll (tied with
For most brands, their visibility within As suggested by the overlap of brands BMW and Deutsche Bank). Yet its
their competitive set is more important that excel in both awareness and expert average expert ranking for its cultural
than their overall global reputation as ranking, there is a strong relationship engagement was only 35th (between
cultural citizens. And some industries, between these two metrics. The more Lavazza and ING).
such as finance, are generally more people know about a brand’s cultural
active in culture than others. Therefore, citizenship, it appears, the higher Moreover, not everyone perceives all
it is worth asking, based on the they rank them for it. But not always. brands in the same way. There is plenty
admittedly limited data in this poll, In statistical terms, the correlation of variation around the mean. The most
which brands performed best within between awareness and ranking is consistent brand perceptions (with the
their category (statistically speaking, 0.82. In other words, a high ranking least deviation from the mean scores)
outranking their industry means by suggests strong awareness of a brand’s belong to UBS, BMW, Louis Vuitton,
more than two standard deviations). engagement in arts and culture, but it Deutsche Bank, and Davidoff.
The brands that clearly outranked is not a guarantee.
their peer group were: BMW, Davidoff, Future analyses will go beyond the
Chevron, Sotheby’s, Xerox, HP, WeChat, For example, Pictet tied for 49th (out rankings of experts and involve data
Illy, NetJets, and Coca Cola. of 57 brands scored) in awareness, but obtained from the companies in the
it soared to 22nd in average ranking: study about their cultural engagement.
People who know about Pictet’s Such indexes will provide a more in-
cultural role hold it in high esteem. By depth and reliable measure of cultural
contrast, Apple is one of the world’s citizenship. Stay tuned. …

included brands
UBS Illy Pinterest
BMW Condé Nast Comme Des Garçons
Louis Vuitton UnionPay HSBC
Deutsche Bank NetJets H&M
Davidoff Ford Motor Pictet
Chevron Volkswagen/Audi British Airways
Absolut Bloomberg Lavazza
Sotheby’s Coca Cola Tumblr
Axa Instagram Levi’s
Ruinart Google Toyota
Audemars Piguet Twitter IBM
Prada Bacardi Apple
Swarovski Bank of America Target
Rolex Citibank Facebook
Xerox Snapchat ING
Hewlett Packard BP Unilever
WeChat Marc Jacobs L’Oreal
Rolls Royce Yves Saint Laurent ISBC
JP Morgan Chase American Express Shell