Wexner Center's Jerry Dannemiller gives a glimpse of the multichannel and multilayered effort to orchestrate a cultural campaign.
It’s no secret that we present a diverse embarrassment of riches at the Wexner Center on a weekly basis, with films, performances, exhibitions and much else filling the calendar, but it’s a rare moment when the center aligns its programmatic efforts so that all rooms of the house are focused on a single theme. Such is the case currently with our Via Brasil initiative, made possible because of a major Mellon Foundation grant the center was awarded in 2011. Several years of planning behind the scenes have culminated in a very public exploration of contemporary culture in Brazil, with a major exhibition, catalogue, documentary series, performing arts events, graduate level seminar, symposium, book translation project and devoted web presence all launched, or soon to be unveiled. (A video of the Cruzmentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil exhibition’s opening night celebration is below.)
Telling the story of such a complex effort has taken an equally aligned and orchestrated campaign from all corners of the Wexner Center, but especially from the Marketing and Communications team I have the great fortune of leading. The campaign was multichannel, multilayered and, at times, multilingual.
Earned, social, it’s all media
A sustained media relations effort (led by Erik Pepple and Jennifer Wray) has brought forth earned media coverage, not only locally and nationally, but also from within Brazil, with major outlets spreading news of the exhibition, the Wexner Center and Ohio State internationally.
Social media is a highly ingrained element of our integrated marketing at the Wex, and for Via Brasil, we utilized our Instagram feed to not only convey activity happening on campus (#wexviabrasil), but in Brazil, as well. Curators Jennifer Lange and Chris Stults were an integral part of the latter, taking and posting images from their trips to all corners of Brazil, visiting potential artists for inclusion in either the Cruzamentos exhibition or documentary series. Their photos were some of our most liked in the history of the feed, and brought to life the sometimes mysterious process behind curatorial field research.
A sustained paid media campaign across local print, electronic and broadcast channels helped build a foundation of awareness for the effort, and select national and international ads raised visibility and reputation among art-world audiences. A beautiful suite of printed collateral and publications (led by editor Ryan Shafer and design director Chris Jones) helped provide background and context for aspects of the exhibition, film series, performances and symposium. We even had the street team covered with Via Brasil t-shirts.
But perhaps the largest cumulative effort (with special effort from web content manager Elizabeth Grunewald and web developer Adam Tracht) was the Via Brasil website itself. We needed a way to convey the totality of the effort through great content, video, artist/curator bios and complete event listings, make it easily readable for audiences in Brazil as well as on campus, and not dwarf the balance of programming we need to publicize at the Wex. Since launch in mid-December, the site has had 8,500 unique visitors, and 13 videos have been watched 59,890 times.
So often this sort of digital presence is cordoned off as boutique or vanity, but this was anything but. It was a fully ingrained effort, in process and appearance, which reflected the scope and scale of a massive team effort.