Art Galleries and Museums: The Final Frontier of Brand Licensing | Marketing

A surprising opportunity for brands that the pandemic has unleashed is the rapid growth of an entirely new category of brand licensing: artistic and cultural intellectual property. A growing number of deals are being made between brands and museums to license their cultural intellectual property – the artworks and artifacts in their collections – for use on physical and digital products across multiple industries.

Asia turns out to be a pioneer market in this field, both in terms of consumer demand for artistic and cultural imagery products, as well as the innovation that brands and museums in the region bring to these partnerships, including NFTs, digital collectibles and video game partnerships that see cultural artifacts take on new life and engage new audiences in the digital realm.

While the sports and entertainment categories have dominated brand licensing for decades, it’s only since the onset of the pandemic that the global arts and culture sector has realized the lucrative opportunities ‘he offers. In 2020,visitor figures for the 100 best art museums in the worlddropped 77%as global shutdowns hit the cultural sector. It was therefore urgent for museums to find new sources of income and served as a catalyst for this new brand licensing market. The emergence of the trend, however, was already brewing.

In 2019, total worldwide sales of licensed products amounted to $292.8 billion, after a sixth consecutive year of growth. Historically, art and museums have only accounted for 1.5%, but these sectors have alwaysshows the strongest growth.China is a leading market. In 2020, artistic and cultural intellectual property has become the second most important type of intellectual property in the country, growing from less than 2% to more than 18% in terms of retail sales of licensed merchandise. The Beijing Palace Museum is said to have been built $222 millionthanks to sales of branded products in 2018 alone, the last time statistics were available indicating the huge potential of this market.

The opening of this opportunity has been accompanied by significant consumer demand for culturally inspired products.often carried by the museums themselves. The Center Pompidou expands its audience in China during a5-year partnership with West Bund Museum Project Shanghaiand recentlyin partnership with Swatchto launch a special range of watches, which are available in China.

Swatch – Center Pompidou collaboration

The partnership saw the museum licenses famous works from their collection by Delaunay, Kandinsky, and Frida Kahlo. At the same time, following a series of marketing activities in China in recent years, the British Museum’s TMall store receives an average of 20 million visitors per year, which is 4 times more than visitors to the museum itself.

The trend is also evident throughout the region. In Japan, we have seen a significant increase in inquiries from fashion and lifestyle brands regarding licensing opportunities related to museum intellectual property. In addition, while Japan was once very popular with Sanrio’s “character IP” famous for Hello Kitty, we have recently seen a shift from character IP to cultural IP in the market, which should continue.

As the market continues to grow, here are some of the trends shaping it:

1) Increasing sophistication

Products from brand-museum partnerships are becoming increasingly sophisticated as consumers continue to demand thoughtful and ambitious products. The way Chinese beauty brand, Perfect Diary, has seamlessly integrated licensed artwork into a exclusive product for singles dayas good asa limited editionrange of lipsticks in partnership withthe Metropolitan Museum of Art, are good examples. The latter received 110 million reactions on Weibo and sales of 800,000 units..To ArtiStory, we even have a creative team whose mission is to create seasonal designs and themes inspired by the cultural intellectual property of our museum partners and informed by trend forecasts, in order to offer brands a choice of contemporary designs to license.

2) Transcend memories

Although gifts are a popular product category within artistic and cultural intellectual property licensing, there is also a huge market for cosmetics, fashion, household goods and even technology, accessories, food products and beverages. Oreo is famouscollaborated with The Forbidden Cityon a range of novelties flavors that have incorporated the art of attraction into the design of the packaging, the salemore … than760,000 boxeson its first day of sale.

Within technology, werecently worked with smartphone brand TECNO will launch a special edition smartphone inspired by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, licensed from the Museum of Fine Art, Boston. These examples show the diversity of opportunities within the market.

Tecno-Mondrian collaboration

3) Games, NFTs and Digital Collectibles

Earlier this year, Vienna’s Belvedere Museum released 10,000 NFTs of Gustav Klimt’s “Kiss” on Valentine’s Day,generating a turnover of approximately 4.3 million euros($4.17 million).Asia has proven to be a dynamic frontrunner in the NFT art craze with Central and Southeast Asiaaccounting for 35% of the $22 billionin world trade last year. Also, last monthTOKEN2049an event, Asia’s premier crypto conference, featured an NFT art exhibition worth over $100 million, while Crypto Art Week Asia, also held last month, showcased the vast diversity of artists working in digital formats across the region. Brands are not yet profitable in this market anddespite a recent decline in the global NFT art market– examples like this show the huge opportunities and consumer demand for digital art formats, which bodes well for brand partnerships if the NFT market recovers or as it evolves. It will be an interesting space to observe.

In the meantime, we recently created a number of digital activations for theDunhuang City,a UNESCO World Heritage Site on China’s Silk Roadfamous for its ancient art. These includea rangedigital collectibles (the Chinese equivalent of NFTs that are cryptocurrency-independent and therefore less volatile), which sold out immediately after launch, and license ofancient legaciesfor use in a new episodeof the influential Chinese mobile gameClash of Kings, bringing this ancient site to a whole new generation players.

4) Experience is essential

Combine AR and VR technologywith cultural intellectual property licensing is inevitable, especially given the huge demand for experiential content we are seeing post-pandemic. The entertainment sector is leading the trend. Primark launched an 11 piece”stranger things“collection combined with in-store experiences at select locations as Hasbro launches”VR Transformers: Battle Arena,” at The Zone in Dubai and Sala City EntertainmentCenter of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Within Arts and Culture Intellectual Property, this month marks the launch of an immersive Monet-themed art experience at Terminal 2 Changi Airport “Monet: A journey through the seasons in Changi” in collaboration with theBoston Museum of Fine Arts .

5) Aesthetic vs culturalsensitivity

While the beauty and aesthetic quality of art and cultural IP will always be a key factor in a brand’s decision to license it, as the category continues to mature, we are also likely to see a maturation in how brands choose to engage with art and cultural intellectual property. . At a time when campaigns like thisUnfiltered historical tourofVice World Newsand that of IndiaDentsuWebchutney shines a light on the issue of cultural colonialism within certain museum collections, brands have an opportunity to engage with art and cultural intellectual property as a force for good, not just its beauty. We’ll likely see more and more brands licensing artwork thatto reinforcetheir values ​​and communicates where they stand on broader societal issues we know consumers care about, such as sustainability, diversity, inclusion, identity, authenticity and transparency.


Alicia Chen is based in Singapore as Country Manager and APAC Business Development Manager for ArtiHistory, an intellectual property licensing company working with museums, galleries, science centers and libraries around the world.

Mildred D. Field