When a brand owner is also a professional gambler, there are interesting new directions open to the marketing team, and The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart has exploited these to the full.

Robbie Brammall, MONA director/marketing and communications, told the recent Advertising Week APAC conference in Sydney that the organisation was “an interesting case study [and] an answer to a question no one has dared asked: What are the consequences for a business of giving creativity its full rein?”

As a professional gambler, MONA owner David Walsh’s financial philosophy embraces the “asymmetrical upside”, he noted: namely, only do something if you have a lot more to gain than you have to lose,.

And he has applied the same thinking to the museum’s marketing. “What if we continuously take calculated risks, and, in so doing, asymmetrically contribute to the creativity and financial success of the business?” he asked.

For MONA, then, creativity enables similar gains without huge financial risk. (For more, read WARC’s report: The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) flouts marketing taboos with “asymmetrical” creativity.)

The first-ever branding campaign, for example, involved taking the worst reviews that could be found on TripAdvisor and turning them into ads.

The great thing about such reviews, Brammall explained, is that they are “grounded in the truth”. And, in the spirit of asymmetrical creativity, telling the truth is “absolutely a risk worth taking” for MONA.

“This campaign was our highest-converting campaign ever [by] magnitudes higher than any exhibition we’ve ever promoted,” he added. “For MONA, brand converts over product.”

MONA today encompasses around 40 brands, including Moo Brew, a restaurant called The Source, a record label, the Moorilla winery, a soap line, and more. And its strategy, Brammall argued, takes the museum’s uncompromising approach to artistic creativity and infuses it into the wider cultural industry.

“To secure our financial future, we’re applying the same disruptive strategies to two new categories: the luxury tourism market and the destination convention market,” he said. “And we’ll be taking plenty of risks along the way.”

Sourced from WARC