Why I love Banksy
Banksy is a shining example to all PRs who understands that the media is his canvas to use as he sees fit to connect with a global audience.
I love the artist Banksy; a intellect that has rejuvenated the art of the stuntster, expressing that content and action fused together with social comment, can generate billions of words.
Anybody who thinks of him as a charlatan needs to be sectioned.
Often labelled as a “Guerrilla artist” Banksy needs no introduction to those happy, bloggy, cynical and acerbic MediaGuardian types.
He defies all the modern labels of category because he is no derivative. I suspect he would stick two fingers up at any smart eulogy about his undoubted process of manipulation of the modern media hemisphere.
But make no mistake, this shadowy figure is a shining example to any would-be publicist.
This week, his global roadshow has moved into Los Angeles, via Disneyland where the street puck has painted a 37-year-old live elephant from head to tail in a floral pattern, reminiscent of an old fashioned living room.
The animal is housed in a makeshift living room, complete with sofa, chandelier and wallpaper in the same pattern as the elephant. It represents the big issues in life, like poverty, that some people choose to ignore.
Banksy’s next feat was to create a life-size hooded replica of a Guantánamo Bay detainee, which was placed inside the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the theme park.
It stayed up for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and it was taken away. A spokeswoman for Banksy said the publicity stunt was to highlight the plight of terror suspects at the controversial Cuban detention centre.
In this modern age of digital news distribution, it was irrelevant whether the image stayed up for 90 seconds or 90 years; the moment was his. Banksy stuck a flag in the turf, and the ravenous, news-hungry media gorged on the delight, and then spewed it up all over the globe.
Banksy’s ability to supply pertinent art that is comment and news, knows no bounds.
The street urchin, Bristolian artist Banksy is notorious for his secretive stunts, which include sneaking doctored versions of classic paintings into major art galleries.
And only last week, he smuggled 500 “alternative” versions of Paris Hilton’s album into record shops around the UK. He had replaced Paris’s songs titles with his own, such as Why Am I Famous? and What Have I Done?.
At every turn we witness someone who is symbiotically fused to the media matrix. A manipulator that understands that the media is his canvas to use as he sees fit.
Every action he creates demands a reaction that fuels debate and interest. No course or seminar run by any worthy trade institutions can teach the pure chutzpah and ingenuity that this genius employs.
His sensibility is to warp and excite, using his art to connect to a global audience. Why bother with cumbersome galleries and the art cliques that exist which have a history of hindrance that many have found impossible to penetrate? The gate-keepers often prove to be arrogant halfwits who are really estate agents in mufty.
Ironically, the absolute bullshit of modern PR is highlighted by Banksy’s work as an artist. I suspect, not by design, he has identified the primary elements that the modern publicist must employ to be relevant and successful.
Understanding the journey of the story will ensure its aims are meaningful. Always explore previously unconsidered avenues; the obvious routes are sometimes erroneous.
Stay one step ahead of the media agenda; endeavour to identify the emerging trends and capitalise on them before anybody else does.
Above all, absolute integrity is the foundation. Attacking creativity with creativity remains the challenge. Resolutely build campaigns that are as daring and interesting.
Every day brings another trend, so keep abreast of rapid changes in today’s media, especially in the area of emerging technologies. React in time with the new lightning-fast pace of news, providing the media with truly relevant and compelling content.
In the celebrity-obsessed era Banksy has reinvented the concept by developing a global brand enjoying one word equity without having to reveal his true idenity – quite a feat. More power to your spray can son.