Unpopular culture and how to sell it

Brian Millar

There are some parts of the marketing world that ad agencies rarely get a chance to see. One is fashion: the world of watches, perfume and luxury handbags. The other is the arts. I don't know anything about fashion, as my wife can testify. I have found out a bit about arts marketing in recent years, though.

Something that started as a fun sideline has turned into an occupation that now takes up about half of my time: selling unpopular culture. I've done brand campaigns for the British Museum, Southbank Centre and various dance and literature festivals. I've worked with music companies and broadcasters on the more outré ends of their output.

Arts marketers, like their fashionista counterparts, begin with a very different set of assumptions about their audience and their relationship with its product. They assume that they are interested in it.