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What’s the big idea?

I hate going to the cinema. Not simply because of the soulless venues, the over-priced popcorn-culture or the annoying trailers and terrible ads. I hate going to the cinema because no other art form promises quite so much as films fail to deliver.

I prefer public art. To me, public art always delivers more than it promises. Public art is based on big ideas. It has a reason for being. And for all of us working in branding, marketing and advertising, the differences between cinema and public art are telling at every level.

Not for public art the hollow cheap thrills of big-flash-bang-wallop hollow CGI. Instead, public art is based on making a resonant statement. This standpoint usually reflects a historical, environmental, personal or symbolic truth. Think Anthony Gormley’s Another Place. The best advertising does the same. The most compelling ads reflect our world in a fresh and enlightening way. They show us something we’ve never seen before.

Not for public art the endless ringing of the last drop from an already flogged to death franchise. Instead, public art is individual and unique. It tends to be a one-off structure that is impossible to ignore. Consider Edinburgh’s Scott Monument. The best advertising also demands a reaction. Challenging us, asking questions of us, forcing us to react.

Not for public art the Graham Norton Show-based celeb ‘I suffered for my art’ showboating. Instead, public art stands silent, basking in its confidence to be judged and appreciated without the endless needy prods of its creators. Look at Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate. The best advertising also has the confidence to live or die on its own merits: if you have to explain it, it doesn’t work.

Be like public art. Be bold. Be brash. Be controversial. Be anything but ‘Underworld: Awakening’.

An opposing point of view will be published in the weeks ahead.

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