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Art for Business: Creating Competitive Advantage through Cultural Projects


  • Claudio Dell'era


Today, more than ever, products determine their own market presence through the meanings that they assume and the symbolic value that they exude. For this reason, an increasing number of companies are trying to enrich brands and products with new cultural values and messages. The cultural aspects of products and brands are so relevant that lately several companies and organizations have aimed to link art and business to improve both society and corporate performance. If in the 1990s keystone contributions from Pine and Gilmore (The Experience Economy—Work is Theatre & Every Business a Stage, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 1999), Schmitt (Experiential Marketing—How to Get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act and Relate, New York: The Free Press, 1999), and Schmitt and Simonson (Marketing Aesthetics—The Strategic Management of Brands, Identity, and Image, New York: The Free Press, 1997) provided interesting and stimulating managerial visions, recent phenomena seem to show the necessity of providing something more than an experience. Gilmore and Pine (Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2007) describe the concept of authenticity as the new business imperative; Holt (How Brands become Icons, Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2004) demonstrates the success of some iconic brands with particular cultural connections. Focusing on two Italian companies (Diesel and illycaffe) that do not operate in the cultural industries but can be considered cultural producers, the paper analyzes several cultural projects, explaining their potential contribution to the competitive advantage. Collaboration with artists allows these firms to intercept and to interpret emerging cultural phenomena and consequently to anticipate the trends of the future. Cultural projects represent a sort of distributed research project that allows the co-production of future scenarios in collaboration with several categories of actors, such as famous artists, young talents and consumers. The co-development of cultural projects with external actors allows firms to reinforce connections and build communities of people who share similar visions and values.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudio Dell'era, 2010. "Art for Business: Creating Competitive Advantage through Cultural Projects," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 71-89.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:indinn:v:17:y:2010:i:1:p:71-89
    DOI: 10.1080/13662710903573844

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    Art; cultural project; competitive advantage;


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