Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles – A Marketing Sensation

Exploiting the Dutch post-Impressionist’s paintings’ “aurain advertising has been going on for decades.
But lately its adoption/ adaptation is becoming more creative by inovative content marketers.

  1. Van Gogh’s Bedroom

 In April 2016 a huge campaign offered everyone to book a night at the Bedroom In Arles.
It was advertised on airbnb. This listing was actually for a room in a flat in the city of Chicago IL: the room was created
by the Art Institute of Chicago.
They built a 3D replica of the Bedroom and posted it on the holiday rentals site, for just $10 a night. Then they ran an orchestrated media campaign for the listing’s promotion.

The stunt worked – all the major TV networks and leading international newspapers published the story.

Take a look at the room:

Bringing the room to life as an immersive experience is such a creative way to use a work of art for marketing. It exposes audiences to knowledge, emotions, fantasies. This campaign created a new aura; I think it is in itself a unique, original artwork.

Stealing From A Thief

The Chicago (and any other) marketers learned to appropriate masterpieces from artists themselves: The Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein painted his Bedroom at Arles in 1992.



A museum will harness the Tiny Homes trend and set up an exhibition of 5 shipping containers. Each container will be decorated as a room to accomodate Van Gogh (with a bed, chair, etc.). Each room will present a different artistic interpretation of VG’s room, by 5 different contemporary artists.

2. Arles’s Art

Arles is situated in a the south of France. VG lived and worked there between 1888–89. He died in a neighboring town Saint-Rémy.

I have had the chance to visit Arles and found it a dissapointing, dreary old town, exhibiting decades of neglect. It’s one of the worst (very few) places in Provence.

Visiting Arles, one can almost understand why VG was depressed here. And the good people of Arles keep it that way. Maybe so you too can experience VG’s grief? How thoughtful 😉

In 1989 VG moved to the stunning town Saint-Rémy – smart move!

Only once a year they do the people of Arles make a huge exception: an annual international photography festival takes place in town.
It is a fascinating event, showing photos that have never been seen by the public before. The festival draws around 100,000 international visitors each year.

This is an intersting point for marketers:

The people of Arles don’t put their money into better pavements, street lights, sidewalk cafes, fountaions, or any of those cutesy French Saint-Rémy lifestyle amenities.
No. Instead they put their money (a lot of it) in just this one great artistic event.

It’s like a startup throwing an annual buzz-worthy event, rather than buying decent office furniture.
I wonder what is the right choice in terms of ROI –

good or bad choice from a marketing perspective?


Top: Saint-Rémy. Bottom: Arles. I swear I am not being manipulative here. I have visited them both.

* Walter Benjamin’s ‘Aura’ term explained on Wikipedia


Other marketers have also also been playful with VG’s artwork to attract public attention.


Keloptic eyeglasses brand advert


This Samsung camera advertising campaign:


Lexus: Sunflowers have been replaced in this advert.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s