Toyota is one of the latest automotive brands to join the bustling freeway of brands that are forging deeper alignments with the world of art. BMW has forged the way here with a number of high profile collaborations, and only last week Volvo positioned its latest model as the perfect canvas for artistic expression.
Toyota’s effort sees the car manufacturer partnering up with the Beautiful/Decay label, “a printed book series and apparel line with a focus on experimental, grotesque, and groundbreaking art,” in order to draw attention to the Toyota Prius. The project invites artists to submit images that depict their idealistic vision of a perfect future. Doing so could net them a cash prize plus a coveted 10-15 page interview in a forthcoming Beautiful/Decay book.
The big question here is whether anyone is actually buying into the notion that the engineering under the bonnet has any correlation with the world of art? These campaigns certainly have merit, but many of them are still rooted in the fundamentals of sponsorship and have little to say to the people stuck behind the wheel in a mile long tail back.
The perfect future for automotive art collaborations is to somehow make these executions resonate with the actual lifestyles of their target consumers, beyond the gallery space and beyond the somewhat restrictive boundaries of high art. How about bringing art to the streets and making a mothers daily school run chore a beautiful experience with a roadside art event that unravels across her whole journey. Or a roadside carwash that gives old cars artistic makeovers.
High art sponsorship has its place and nets auto brands a certain level of luxury appeal whilst resonating with a high brow, affluent consumer. This Toyota campaign falls neatly into this category, and will undoubtedly find a natural audience. However, there are many who will never venture into a gallery, and it’s these consumers who could benefit from art as a utility, that delivers something of worth to their everyday driving experience.