Interview de ceux qui subliment la création publicitaire.
Au croisement d’une pratique ancestrale, la peinture, et d’un sens artistique terriblement moderne, le street art, il y a Colossal Media. « Régie média » atypique, elle est spécialisée dans la réalisation de publicités 100% peintes à la main, dans les rues de grandes villes américaines. Un procédé plus long et plus couteux que de l’affichage print, mais qui offre une valeur ajoutée largement supérieure, ainsi qu’un surprenant impact positif pour les marques en digital et sur les réseaux sociaux.
À l’occasion du One Show 2017 à New York, j’ai eu l’occasion de découvrir quelques unes de leurs plus belles réalisations du moment dans les rues de Brooklyn. Retrouvez ci-dessous le fruit de leur travail à travers une interview exclusive et passionnée avec Adrian Moeller, Co-Fondateur et Président de Colossal Media, « leader mondial de la publicité peinte en extérieur ».
« We create art out of advertising. »
When did it all started? How did you get this idea?
Colossal was started by 3 friends in 2004. At the time, we were hanging out at Paul’s house in Los Angeles, drinking beers and looking at photo albums of his work painting giant murals.
« We thought, « We should do this in New York! » »
So we borrowed Paul’s albums, flew home to New York, and got to work making a brochure, calling building owners and potential clients. We convinced a building owner on 6th Ave & 13th street in Manhattan to lease us his wall and we painted a sample ad on the wall to show what we could do.
Most of the potential advertisers we called said some version of « Why would I paint an ad when I could just put up a vinyl banner quicker & cheaper? » A few of them still had bad memories of the horrible painted ads they bought in the early 90’s when vinyl banners started replacing paint and most of the remaining painters sucked.
What was your first realisation?
We got a lot of doors slammed in our faces, but finally Rockstar Video Games believed in us and bought our wall for their Grand Theft Auto video game coming out. They loved it & got a great response with tons of people stopping to take pictures of the wall going up. That lead to a bigger campaign where we painted street level GTA ads in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. The buzz from that lead to a big art project for a Van Gogh exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A year later the New York Times did a story on us and things started getting a little easier.
« People within our industry started calling any hand painted wall « a Colossal Wall ». »
We started building a killer team of passionate people that wanted Hand Paint to succeed again. Clients started seeing the value in the higher engagement Colossal painted walls have. We were able to go into new neighborhoods & cities that don’t like standard billboards & advertising, but thought our painted ads were a good creative fit.
Along the way we started to do more & more projects with Non-Profits, Museums, Galleries, etc. We love working with great advertising partners and one of the many things that make Colossal unique is that we don’t just do commercial work. The fine art & public art projects keeps things fresh & we all take a ton of pride in them.
Why is painting so different than print according to you?
They’re completely different. Printing a big banner and pasting it up in the middle of the night isn’t unique or engaging. We’re on our walls for days at a time, interacting with people that live in the neighborhoods, answering questions, making art. Our walls and us painting them every month become part of the fabric of the neighborhood. We’ve had a lot of our walls for years. Some of our walls have become neighborhood landmarks! You just don’t get that same level of passion, engagement, and care from a vinyl sign.
What can you do with paint that you can not with print?
Every Colossal mural is a piece of art. You can see the brushstrokes and you can see our painters’ dedication to their craft. Specifically, though, we can break down walls with « a tromp l’oeil effect », engage people on the streets with live events, and do some awesome tease-and-reveal campaigns.
« It’s funny how the process being slow used to be one of the hardest sales barriers to overcome, now it’s a huge benefit! »
Clients can see the engagement their campaigns get with us on social media and we’re creating more & more custom content that extend the reach of their walls.
Some of my favorites are the Snickers « reveal campaign » where we turned Marcia Brady into Danny Trejo, the Spotify campaign where we painted the most streamed songs of that neighborhood on local walls (with pretty funny results!), and the Scholastic campaign that’s been up for 3 years and counting. It’s now called the « Mona Lisa of Williamsburg » and has become an iconic neighborhood destination!
Why brands which work with you like paint more than print? Because obviously painting is longer, more expensive…
It’s a mix of the engagement our walls get and the Colossal Brand. We revived a dead art form & are constantly improving it staying true to our core of « Always Hand Paint ». We’re selective with the types of projects we take on. We never want to grow just for the sake of getting bigger. The quality of the work always comes first.
« We paint dope shit & believe in what we do! »
Brands respect our passion & the extra value they get out of working with us. Our live paint process is a performance art that never fails to get passersby to stop, stare, and share. It’s a mix of our locations in creative neighborhoods & our reputation. By partnering with Colossal, brands get a credible way to advertise to savvy consumers in a creative, engaging way.
Why are your pieces of work never overpainted (vs print ads which are often tagged)?
We build relationships with the people in the communities around our walls. People respect our work because they see the care and attention to detail that goes into each of our murals. We’ve worked with lots of street artists and a lot of us came to Colossal through graffiti.
Do you work only on creative and beautiful ads? Are you selective about the “beauty” of the ads you may have to paint?
No, that’s pretty subjective. We like doing creative partnerships with the brand’s we work with but we’re not selective with a brand’s creative. We pride ourselves on being able to paint anything and they should be able give us the same artwork that they’re using in all their other media.
The stuff we’re really selective with are ideas that don’t fit Colossal. We’ve turned down a lot of concepts like having us dress up like pirates while we’re painting, planting green walls and painting around them, and of course using any kind of vinyl on our walls…
Work in progress
How long does it stay on walls? Longer than print campaigns?
Our minimum is 4 weeks, the average is around 8 weeks. Some clients, like Gucci and Adult Swim, purchase our media space for a full year to make their location a creative destination. It’s always fun to see what they’ll come up with next. A lot of the time they’ll use social media to drive foot traffic to the locations and use a custom hashtag to drive & measure engagement.
How do you you erase the paintings once campaigns are over? You remove paint or you re-paint over the previous one?
We coat out each advertisement with white paint, before painting the next campaign over it. We keep painting over & over the same wall. Since the paint is really thin even after 100 ads you’d have no idea how many times we’ve painted it by looking at it.
Absolut Vodka, Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Cadillac, Coca-Cola, Converse, Google, HBO, Levi’s, Netflix, Nike, Paramount, P&G, Ray-Ban, Red Bull, Sonos, Spotify, Vice, Warner Bros… Vous l’aurez compris, Colossal Media travaille pour les plus grandes marques.
Do you have special authorization from the Brooklyn’s (and other cities’) mayor office?
In the beginning we had no idea that advertising walls needed permits from the city. We would pay the building owner & get to work! About 5 years ago we dropped all the walls that we couldn’t permit.
« We’re proud that all our locations are legit. «
It makes it much harder, more expensive, and time consuming to find suitable locations. Luckily we have an amazing real estate team that works tirelessly to secure legal, permitted media spaces in prime locations. We currently have about 100 locations and are adding 10-15 new ones a year.
Are your media spaces protected / are you the owner of these spaces?
Yes. We made a conscious decision in the beginning of Colossal to own the real estate. We knew that if we didn’t control the real estate we wouldn’t be able to build a sustainable business. We sign long (10-20 year) leases on the walls & get the necessary city permits.
« In 2015, Colossal painted over 400 murals in 365 days. »
We used to get so much pressure from brands to put up printed ads on our walls, before they believed in painting them! But by having great walls in good neighborhoods, we were able to hold out and build a great brand with a long term outlook.
They will never be replaced by printed ads?
What is your main need in order to develop Colossal Media? Hire painters? I saw you were more looking for creative talents than clients…
Yes, we’d love to have more painters. Currently we have enough wall space and a great sales team that could sell more campaigns, but not enough painters to paint everything. After we couldn’t find enough talented painters that were tough enough to work outside all day, we set up an apprenticeship program to train new generations of « walldogs ».
It takes at least 5 years, and often much longer to be good enough to be a « lead painter » on our crew so we’re growing slowly. Every potential new painter at Colossal goes through an intensive apprenticeship before he or she is accepted into the crew. Requirements for application? Love to work.
« We’re not in a rush, we’re building a great family here and good shit takes time. »
Another big growth area for us is our creative services department. We’re always looking for dope creatives to improve our content, concepts, and pitches.
What would be the project of your dreams?
Probably a huge project working with inspiring artists and a deep pocketed client to create something big as shit that’s never been done before!
Merci à Colossal Media pour cette interview et bravo !
Plus d’infos : colossalmedia.com