What the Art Basel Banana Taught Us (If Anything)

December 9, 2019

A banana and a piece of tape.

That’s all it took to take Art Basel by storm this year.

And while everyone from disappointed art connoisseurs to casual internet trolls had an opinion on whether or not the attention was justified, no one can deny that every outlet in America, and arguably the world, covered Maurizio Cattelan’s duct-taped art, and everything that came with it.

So what really happened? How did it go viral? You know, that sought-after attention that so many people and businesses beg their marketing personnel to create? Here’s our take on the ingredients that caused the over-the-top hype around the “Comedian”.

A concoction of ridiculousness  

One of the key factors to the banana picking up this much steam is likely merging three known-to-be-ridiculous-at-times (all the time?) environments that also happen to receive extra media attention:

  1. The art market known for its outrageous selling price points
  2. Art Basel for its over the top art and people scene
  3. Miami for being, well, Miami

Maurizio Cattelan’s ability to make headlines

The Banana artwork isn’t Maurizio’s first trick to get more attention at art fairs. He is known for his stolen gold toilet, another well-covered “PR stunt” that helped him cash in on millions of impressions.

A continued drip of people-gone-bananas breaking news 

First, the coverage began around how ridiculous it was to have a taped Banana “artwork” listed for $120,000. 

Everyone ridiculed the idea. 

But that was only the beginning.

Then came the fact that two buyers actually pulled the trigger on the $120k asking price. They were given an official certificate of authenticity and instructions on how to replace the banana when needed. No, really.

But what really fueled the Banana momentum over the weekend was when artist David Datuna approached the art piece and, instead of taking a selfie like the other hundreds of visitors, un-taped the banana and ate it. No one knows for sure if this was planned or not, but this certainly gave the banana situation even more momentum.

The best part of the eating incident? The banana was quickly replaced and the craziness continued. That until the obsession reached a level so high that the Miami Beach convention center asked the “Comedian” be removed it from display on the final day of Art Basel because of the Mona Lisa-like attention that caused safety concerns.

So what did all of this tell us -if anything- on a marketing and PR level?

The stunt certainly gave everybody a few tips that you should keep in mind when looking for the perfect environment to get some buzz.

  1. Pick your moment and make sure it creates a respectable level of outrage
  2. Fuel the news with additional turn of events to keep the momentum going
  3. Shut down the hype to receive a final wave of attention

If you’re looking to have your business reach new heights in 2020 without the need of taping a banana on a wall, Evestar can help. Our South Florida-based marketing agency offers a wide range of digital services that continues to help scale eCommerce businesses around the World.

Contact us for a complimentary consultation with our team of digital marketing experts.

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