The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is an institution which constantly impresses me with its marketing. A few years ago they had the good sense to shift their communications to include their audiences with the ‘It’s time we MET’ campaign. For this, they asked members of the public to capture their visit to the museum in pictures and share these on Flickr, they then selected a handful of these ‘real’ images to feature in their advertising campaign.
This shift of marketing focus from objects to people was a risky one for a museum of such stature. I am sure that they got a lot of comments about dumbing down, but it transformed my view of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from a stuffy institution, to a place where the staff understood that the status quo was shifting.
People have been central to their advertising ever since, and when I was recently in New York I was pleased to see the latest iteration of this concept with ‘What’s your MET?’ a campaign which caught my attention because of the big name celebrities who had selected items from the collection.
Perhaps only the Metropolitan Museum of Art could put together a campaign in which Hugh Jackman, Alica Keys and Zaha Hadid share their favourite objects from their collection, afterall this is an institution which is inextricably linked with celebrity through its Annual Gala.
However, the campaign is far smarter than a little celebrity endorsement.
‘What’s your MET?‘ is a section on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website which allows people to select and store their favourite items from their online collection, this is linked to social media platforms to encourage those creating collections to share them with friends on Facebook or Twitter.
Many museums now let people play curator with their online collections, but I think that the way that the Metropolitan Museum of Art tie this seamlessly into their advertising is outstanding.
The ‘What’s your MET?’ campaign takes things to a perfect conclusion by not only featuring celebrity collections, but also those of ‘ordinary’ members of the public. In doing so, I feel that they show that anyone can have an opinion on the arts, not only the MET’s curators, the star of the X-Men or other familiar faces.
To me, this is the right message for a museum to communicate to its audiences and a near perfect campaign.