The story behind Tate Modern’s Warholizer

In the latest of its series of Thank You Creativity podcasts, Cannes Lions looks back at the making of a groundbreaking digital campaign for Tate Modern. CR editor Patrick Burgoyne discusses the Warholizer with Jon Wilkins and Ben Milligan

Come with us to the dim and distant days of 2002, a time before Twitter, a time before Facebook, a time before (imagine) the selfie.

And yet even in dark age, brave pioneers were exploring the potential of this new thing called ‘digital’. Tate Modern was about to launch what it knew would be a hugely popular exhibition: an entire floor was given over to Andy Warhol at Tate Modern, which duly went on to break all records for visitor numbers at the time.

Tate backed the show with major promotional activity. In a tie-in with a Channel4 documentary, 50 billboards across London displayed the artist’s work, while a major outdoor ad campaign featured heavily around the capital.

With a small bit of leftover budget, Tate asked agency Naked Communications to experiment with a digital element to the activity. Working with Poke, then in its early days, Naked came up with the Warholizer, a tool that would let anyone submit a photo of themselves and have it magically transformed into something resembling a Warhol screen print, which was then emailed (!) back to them.

Tate Modern Warholizer
Tate Modern Warholizer

For episode 3 of Cannes’ Thank You Creativity series of podcasts, CR Editor Patrick Burgoyne talked to Jon Wilkins and Ben Milligan, who were at Naked at the time, about how the campaign was made and its influence

Listen to Episode 1 of this series – about the Guardian Three Little Pigs commercial – here and Episode 2 – about Cadbury Gorilla – here.

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