Janet Giampietro | G Design + Communications
G Design + Communications


Thoughts, after-thoughts, insights, resources (and goodies) as they relate to design and strategic communications.

Broadway-Lafayette is Branded in Bowie


The Brooklyn Museum is hosting the blockbuster exhibit “David Bowie Is” honoring the late musician and artist. To spread the word (in case the ‘Bowie orange’ outdoor graphics around New York City weren’t obvious), lead sponsor Spotify has branded and promoted the exhibit, David Bowie Subway Takeover, in a massive way – that is, by using mass transit stations and custom-branded MTA cards to honor Bowie's music.

The Broadway-Lafayette station – a large hub in NoHo, and near David Bowie’s residence – has been transformed into a Bowie fanatic’s dream. The branding is strategically positioned to be seen from every touchpoint within the station – coming and going – turnstiles on entry and exit, pillars on the platforms, walls and stairs.

Using graphic clings, the support beams have been inventively wrapped in iconic imagery from key moments in the artist’s life: Pillars have been plaquered, walls have been covered, and the steps have been layered with verbiage. A title card alongside each large image contains a code that links to different Spotify playlists.

In addition, five collectible MetroCards have been designed with images of the legendary rocker from various incarnations in his career including Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke and The Blue Pierrot.

This large, immersive, subterranean branding appears to be a success. As I passed through the Broadway-Lafayette station on 18 april, the lines at the MetroCard kiosks were a mile long – everyone waiting in the hope of snagging one, or all, of the limited-run of 250,000 collectible cards. Photographers, commuters and tourists moved from image to image, and the atmosphere was electric with people engaging with each other – nodding and smiling over shared memories or with curious minds.

Whether the Brooklyn Museum exhibit benefits, or needs to, from the subway station promotion is somewhat irrelevant. The exhibit has already drawn record-breaking crowds throughout its five year journey. The subway display functions as an exhibit on its own, and that’s a good thing for anyone who can’t make it to the museum. And it’s a respite for commuters, particularly on a bad subway day.

The MTA appears to benefiting greatly from the co-branded cards. At a minimum of $6.50 a pop (that’s $5.50 for a two-ride minimum plus a buck for the new card) and with random stocking that’s not a guarantee you’ll get a Bowie card with every purchase, the odds are in the MTA’s favor.

Pick up the David Bowie-branded MetroCards today while they last at either the Broadway-Lafayette and Bleecker Street stations if you can. Hint: I scored one at the Bleecker Street station kiosk.

“David Bowie Is” runs through 15 july 2018 at the Brooklyn Museum. The Broadway-Lafayette David Bowie Subway Takeover is on view through 13 may 2018.

Photos: © 2018 Janet Giampietro.