Course: The Environment of Visual Arts Administration
Instructor: Prof. Carlo Lamagna
Title of the paper: Why do luxury companies sponsor art?
Author: Qing Zhong
Why do luxury companies sponsor art?
Motivations of corporate art sponsorship fall in many categories, as suggested by O'Hagan and Denice (O'Hagan,J. 2000). The analysis of this article concentrates on the external benefits a luxury company could gain from sponsoring art and particular attention will be given to the promotion of brand image, as it is a dominant motivation for corporate decision makers in order to raise brand awareness (Hitters, 1996).
To examine the outcomes of art sponsorship, examples of some luxury companies will be given. These examples include but are not necessarily limited to, Deutsche Bank, LVMH and Hermes. Each example will examine one aspect of the three major motivations that can be generalized into the publicity/brand image promotion category. In addition to these three examples, a personal observation will be given as a complete inspection analyzing all the motivations in a flowing process. All the cases used in this article are “designer sponsorship” which means that luxury companies either initiate corporate art organizations or organize their own art events (Eamon O hOisín 1995). Instead of sponsoring existent art organizations or events, designer sponsorship allow luxury companies to take control over all aspects of the activities and thus maximizes the potential outcomes.
The starting point of this discussion is the definition of sponsorship. It has been reiterated thousands of times by many luxury companies as selfless motives. However, it is not true in reality. Differing from charity or philanthropy, sponsorship is at its best a win-win situation in which sponsors put their own benefits, instead of the sponsored subjects’, in the first place. For the recipients, financial support may save them from desperate situations. For the givers, expected benefits include earning capacity growth or transferring a responsible corporate image to the public. Luxury companies may not gain directly from their sponsorship behaviors, but they gain huge indirect bnefits from branding and image promotion to the public (Krzysztof Klincewicz, 1998).
Indirect benefits relating to art sponsorship could be further detailed in three aspects. Firstly, by appearing more frequently in front of the public’s eyes on banners, boards, websites or TV news report, luxury companies propagate themselves and impress the latent clients in a way that is different from traditional advertisements. A good example worth mentioning is the Deutsche Bank’s sponsorship for various art forms, including art fairs such as the International Hong Kong Art Fair, Art Fair Tokyo, self designed art events such as “Artist of the Year” and influential long-term art projects like the cooperation between Deutsche Bank and the Guggenheim Museum. Figure 1 Hong Kong International Art Fair
Sponsorship for worldly renowned art events gives Deutsche Bank a wide coverage and exposure in social media and thus expands its visibility to the public, but this kind of brand exposure is not directly related with Deutsche Bank’s products. It gives the public a fresh and indirect perspective to approach the bank and its products. As can be seen in Figure 1, whenever viewers browse on the Hong Kong Art Fair’s website, they can’t avoid noticing the little image of the bank on the right corner. Same situation applies to other art events such as the “Deutsche Bank’s Artist of the Year”. It is impossible for the media to mention this event without saying its title beginning with the “Deutsche Bank”. It is neither impossible for the public to get a first impression for the event without knowing that it is sponsored by the bank.
Secondly, art sponsorship transcends the role of a narrowly defined advertising tool and adds meanings and value to the company and its...
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