Patronage of the arts has existed since medieval times and possibly even earlier. The Duke of Milan Ludovico il Moro and King Francis I of France were patrons of the multitalented Leonardo da Vinci, while the Earls of Southampton and Pembroke supported William Shakespeare.
So it stands to reason that these days, brands are stepping in to be the patrons of the arts. I suppose that companies are the “new nobles”. In many ways, the motivations behind their adoption of artistic causes are similar to those of old. Nobles wanted to demonstrate their power and sophistication; today’s businesses are looking for pretty much the same thing.
But new research from agency Frukt shows that today’s consumers are looking for businesses to offer more than just money to support the arts. The ’Let Me Entertain Me’ report suggests that 85% of people are open to the idea of brands nurturing the next generation of entertainment.
More than nine out of 10 accept or are positive about brand involvement in music, entertainment in culture. But those tie-ups receiving most buzz are ones such as Absolut funding a Spike Jonze film or Eurostar funding a Shane Meadows film. Neither project sees the brands advertising their wares; the companies felt that being associated with the editorial product was enough.
The partnership between Foster’s lager and comedy character Alan Partridge is another successful partnership. Partridge, created by comedian and film star Steve Coogan, left TV screens many years ago but still maintains a large fan base. By bringing him back for online-only episodes, Foster’s associated itself with something that felt both cult and mainstream. For a mass-market lager hoping to attract attention, nothing could have worked better.
With 80% of young people aged 16-18 saying they are more likely to choose a brand that entertains them over one that doesn’t, becoming a patron is just as important in the 21st century as it was back when Da Vinci and Shakespeare needed rich nobles to fund their craft.