Intertextuality Between Marketing/Graffiti/Street Art

Rhetoric for Creativity (p117-118)

TABLE I Intertextuality Between Street Art Movements and Advertising Practices

Street Art Rhetoric Intertextuality Implications of Advertising
Aestheticization of Functional Media Analogies: both give primacy to aestheticization (e.g., ads’ use of fashion models, pleasurable settings)

Differences: street art beautifies trivial, forgotten supports (e.g., trash cans, iron cages)


Attitude:beyond the ordinary advertising supports (e.g.. flyers, placarding)Process:

Outcome:creative deployment of new functional media that extend the supports and forms of urban advertising


Playfulness and Cheerfulness


Analogies:both use ironic codes such that representations are better than realityDifferences: they differ for the meaning embedded in Ironic communications (i.e., gift vs. commercial)



Attitude:subverting the use of ironic codes in terms of gift-giving attitudes (i.e., rewarding audiences vs. convincing them)Process: diversified creative processes in terms of ironic codes deployment

Outcome:from desirable products to exceptional representations of ordinary ones


Manipulation of Meanings


Analogies:both multidisciplinary and applying detournement techniquesDifferences: street art shows stronger political involvement and resistance, critical elaboration of companies’ brands (i.e., brandalism), and extension of detournement from communication signs to the physical context of its location



Attitude:rereading CSR (corporate social responsibility) in the light of detournement (e.g., playful ethics)Process:extension of creative use of detournement on the location of ads

Outcome: more contextualized ads


Replication of Symbols and Messages   Analogies:both aim to obtain attention and recall by means of repetition (broadcasting) and grant visibility to communication sourcesDifferences: street art mostly pursues the construction of non-brand-focused communities, whereas brand is central in advertising. Further, street art extends the logic of replication from logos to traits, topics, and typical supports being deployed



Attitude:fostering sense of communityProcess: deployment of multiple forms of replication (not only messages and logos)

Outcome:more varied replicated ads


Stylistic Experimentation   Analogies:both look for innovative styles and attribute importance to style per se 

Differences: street art invests on stylistic experimentation for totally different reasons: co communication and search for not necessarily compliant reactions (street art does not importune, but stimulates critical answers from its audiences). Further, street art tends to reject its own sacralization and any dominant position, opposing craftsmanship and populism



Attitude:refining a dominant approach to the market and fully compliant behaviors Process: involve audiences in the coconstruction of advertising creativity (not only for testing)Outcome: more familiar, intimate, bidirectional and open-ended communications, probably helped by new technologies (bidirectional and real-time communications)


Transfiguration as Restitution   Analogies:both share the notion of creativity as visionDifferences:street art tries to stretch audiences’ capability of perceiving invisible places and lifetimes (e.g., metro stations, ugly streets) whereas advertising tries mainly to reduce consumers’ perceptual scope (mostly, by focusing attention on a given consumption option)

Overlapping: very low


Attitude: subverting the attempt of minimizing audiences’ perceptive scope (e.g., by linking the brand to its social context)Process: in this case, creativity is the opposite of detournement in the sense that transfiguration does not aim to generate new meanings but to restore its own meaning to silent carriers.

Outcome: oversized or downsized ads


Competitive Collusion Analogies:both face competition and adopt benchmarking 

Differences: Street art presents distinctive features in the way it discourages communicational overlapping among different street messages whereas advertisers aim to prevail over other messages.  Further,  street art presents gratuity and limited authorship since artists may not even sign their work or use collective brands.

Attitude: discouraging hierarchical approaches and solipsismProcess: Insert advertising creativity in an ongoing, participative discourse.


Outcome: use of street art aesthetic codes and co-optation of street artists in advertising and campaigns.


The Marketing World Figured Out the Intertextuality of Street Art When RunDMC sang the song “My Adidas,” and Adidas sales went through the roof.
My Favorite part is at 1:23, when the graffiti artist wearing adidas talks to boy that supports Nike. I really wish I could have heard the entire conversation.

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