A CMO Show Blog Post
From Monet’s Garden to the freedom of Sweden: What marketers can learn from the avant-garde
A CMO Show Blog Post
From Monet’s Garden to the...

Disruption, innovation, creative thinking. Modern marketers are using these concepts in their work, but do they realise they’re treading a well-worn path? Content Producer and unashamed art-nerd Candice Witton explores….

When Claude Monet stood in his garden in Giverny, France, he wasn’t thinking about how to “innovate” and create avant-garde content. He was thinking about Japan, and obsessing about colour. What happened next is now famous: the birth of Impressionism via his paintings of waterlilies, his very own floating world.

Monet took what he knew and loved – colour and nature – and threw out the rule book. His experimental techniques presented content in an entirely new way, and through his art we still see the world differently.

The best of marketing, like art, employs an avant-garde approach. Innovation is borne of the minds of radical thinkers who aren’t afraid to experiment with new ways of framing, seeing and being.

By challenging the status quo and asking why the current way of doing things should be the only way, the path for innovation is paved.

For Futurist Aric Dromi, embracing new technologies is only the beginning for successful marketers. More important is utilising imagination and foresight to see the value in technology and how people might capitalise on the information age.

“We have all of these great tools that enable us to collect information, but we don’t have the right people able to actually convert that information into creative, crazy ideas that can create the engagement with users, with customers, with consumers,” Aric says.

“I think it’s less about technology. It’s more showing people the value that they get”, he says.

Want to know what the future holds? Aric Dromi unlocks secrets of the marketing universe

So what does the future look like, through the eyes of avant-garde marketing? We look at three platforms venturing into the world of experimental content marketing.

Marketing cultural heritage


It doesn’t get much more ‘outside the box’ than listing an entire country on Airbnb.

A feature of Nordic culture, and a constitutional right in Sweden, ‘Freedom to Roam’ or allemansrätten, gives everyone the right to access, walk, cycle, or camp on any land except that of private residences and lands under cultivation. The right does not include any economic exploitation, such as hunting or logging.

Airbnb decided to capitalise on the Swedish ideal of freedom to roam, and although visitors cannot formally “book” to stay in any of the wilderness areas listed, genuine accommodation options in nearby places are suggested.

Interestingly, the Airbnb and Visit Sweden partnership wasn’t a paid placement.

“As the initiative is a pure branding campaign for Sweden as a destination, the partnership is strategic for both parties and no payment has been done from or/to either side,” says Jenny Kaiser, president of Visit Sweden’s US office.

Shazam for the real world


Pinterest is visual a hub for creatives. Craft enthusiasts, interior designers, fashion icons, aspiring wedding planners and foodies use the platform as a way of gazing into their imagined consumer futures. Pinterest offers the breadth and depth of the interwebs on your own personal pinboard.

Described as Shazam for objects in the real world, the new Pinterest Lens is a visual search tool that uses ‘machine vision’ to detect objects in the real world and suggest related items available on the service.

Open your camera on a meal and the app tells you the ingredients that went into making it, and similar recipes to try.

This radical search tool paired with ‘buyable pins’ (functionality which allows users to purchase products without having to bounce from Pinterest to an online store), arms users with new tools to be inspired and make purchases more easily than ever before.

Progressive publishing


Is email dead? To Her Door is betting heavily on this tried and true medium as the past and future of publishing and one-to-one communications.

Presented as both a mobile-responsive online publication and a newsletter powered by MailChimp, issues of To Her Door are published fortnightly and cover a variety of hot button issues including creativity, feminism and politics.

As opposed to traditional content platforms or news sites, To Her Door challenges daily and weekly wrap-up format newsletters in favour of full-length interviews, essays, spotlights on illustrators, extracts from books, Q&As and health articles – delivered straight to your inbox.

Most of the content is exclusive to the newsletter version of the issue and reliant on users to subscribe in order to engage.

The format deliberately creates an immersive, personalised engagement with subscribers, more akin to a monthly magazine subscription than most email marketing content competing to publish breaking news. 


For old Monet standing on his bridge contemplating his waterlilies, he harnessed his imagination to push the boundaries of the artistic status quo. For marketers, the inspiration will need to come from harnessing new technology in creative ways.

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