Ogilvy Hosts Art that Hates War (and Corporations)

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Ogilvy & Mather, New York is playing host to an art exhibit that uses some of the brand world's most recognized symbols to imply corporations' role in warmongering--case in point: "Osama McDonald" from designer Chuck Sperry (below).

The traveling exhibition of anti-war artwork "Yo! What Happened to Peace?" has found a home at Ogilvy's Manhattan office from now until September 17.

While most of the posters and murals on display appropriate images of political figures and weapons, the collection also includes art that points a finger at corporations by satirizing brand icons like Arby's and Shell Oil's logos and the famed silhouette iPod ads (all below).

Engaging Ogilvy as a global corporation, one artist, Seth Tobocman, created a mural of Gandhi crying, flanked by a masked man draining the globe of oil and the quote: "So now there is anti-war art in a corporate office...What then will you, who work here, do to end this war?" There was a large tablet and markers adjacent to the mural for visitors' comments during the exhibit's opening reception.

"Ogilvy doesn't endorse any point of view on this; we are not a political organization," says Worldwide Creative Director Antonio Navas, who led Ogilvy's exhibit creative team. "We are in the business of understanding what's going on in the world and the environment our brands live in. The art is designed to get a reaction, to make you feel something--Let's not forget that's the kind of business we are in, to motivate something. Love it. Hate it. But don't be indifferent to it."

The Yo! Peace exhibition began in 2003 as a collection of 14 posters in response to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, after up to 20 shows across the U.S. and the globe, the collection, much of which has been featured in a 144-page book published last year, has grown to approximately 300 prints by more than 150 artists worldwide.

This is the first time the show has ever partnered with an ad agency or any corporation.

"I was shocked when [Ogilvy] invited us to come," says Yo! Peace founder and curator John Carr. "At first I thought, our work is critical of corporations and the agendas big corporations support....But the creative team here is taking a chance personally to make a space within this corporation to have this event happen. 'Ogilvy' doesn't really mean anything to me, except as an advertising agency that works with corporations with distorted agendas, many at odds with what we're doing. But here are people who wanted to create a space to host this dialogue."

To view the exhibit, contact the Ogilvy art curator, Jun Lee, at [email protected] to make an appointment. The Yo! Peace show is part of the Ogilvy Arts program that presents curated art exhibits within the agency.

"Osama McDonald" by Chuck Sperry

"Shelled" by Matt Demello

"I'm Bombin' It" by Rebecca Bughouse


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