There are tell-tale signs of summer: flip flops, burgers and hot dogs, a speedo made of firecrackers…ok, maybe not the latter, but the dangerous swimwear is one of several startling images that ad agency MARC USA has conjured up to promote the summer exhibitions at Pittsburgh’s Warhol Museum. While advertisers always want to play on the almost-universal love of summer, this creative campaign takes iconography of the season and gives them a dark, sometimes uncomfortable twist.
Promoting three exhibitions that feature provocative artists - musician and visual artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, photographer Caldwell Linker and sculptor/tattoo artist Nick Bubash – the campaign serves as both a welcoming and a warning. Says MARC USA creative director Josh Blasingame:
In looking at what unites all these very different artists, we quickly understood that their works are meant to provoke and make you uncomfortable. Our campaign built on that idea by looking at ordinary icons of summer and showing how they could be made more than a little uncomfortable.
The ads, which are styled like vintage postcards with the copy, ‘Must be summer at the Warhol,’ show a different side to summer with images such as a hot dog bun filled with worms, a mouth gag in the pattern of a beach ball and a barbecue-kebab pierced nipple. Eric Shiner, director of the museum, says that while the campaign is not intended to shock sensibilities, he hopes it provokes curiosity. He told the New York Times:
We definitely wanted this ad campaign to say: “We’re going to challenge you. We’re going to provoke you.” We absolutely intend people to look at it and say, “What on earth are they doing at the Warhol now?”
Click the gallery below to see the uncomfortable advertisements below: