Editor’s pick – Contemporary Art Gallery

Portrait of a hip campaign

Portrait of a hip campaign

Contemporary Art Gallery

Why it’s a contender: For sheer ingenuity, inspired execution and relevance.

Even today, a year later, Christina Ritchie, the director/curator at the Vancouver-based gallery, is still amazed at the response to the campaign, which was a pro bono effort by Rethink. ‘It was a feeding frenzy,’ she says of the thousands of youth who clamoured around the exhibit to walk away with buttons that read everything from ‘horny’ to ‘schizophrenic.’

Length of campaign:

The button wall was up for four weeks last May but all buttons were removed within 36 hours.

The target:

Vancouver residents 20+ who appreciate art in all forms.

The insight:

Contemporary art causes most people a lot of anxiety, as they believe they must come up with one answer to explain it.

The goals:

To draw attention to the location itself and to increase awareness about the gallery. To break down the barriers that currently exist in relation to contemporary art.

The execution:

Fifty thousand buttons were hand-pinned onto the wall surrounding the entire gallery. Each button was printed with a single word/colour representing one of a hundred possible reactions to contemporary art. The public was free to walk away with as many buttons as they wanted in this interactive promotional installation. The text on the wall underneath the buttons read, ‘This Is Contemporary Art’.

The results:

The event was covered by most local TV news and newspapers, including the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun. It became a true community-spirited event with hundreds swarming to the site and helping to hoist each other up to remove buttons. The display became a ‘happening’ that spread through the city as people wore their buttons and talked about the piece. These buttons can still be seen on people’s bags and lapels today reminding people of the gallery.

The players:

Contemporary Art Gallery:

Christina Ritchie, director/curator


Chris Staples, CD/copywriter

Ian Grais, CD/AD

Dale Vankoughnett, producer

Joanne Turner, account director