American Marketer


Louis Vuitton promotes art and tourism with Havana Biennale sponsorship

June 2, 2015

Daniel Buren and Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Havana Biennale Daniel Buren and Michelangelo Pistoletto at the Havana Biennale


French leather goods house Louis Vuitton is taking support of the arts global by sponsoring a number of artists at the latest Havana Biennale art exhibition in Cuba.

This year marks the 12th edition of the Biennale, which aims to promote underrepresented voices in the developing world by exhibiting the work of artists from the Caribbean and other locations in the developing world. By sponsoring artists at this year’s Havana Biennale, Louis Vuitton is reaffirming its commitment to art from all areas around the world and its dedication to helping artists exhibit their work.

"Everything in Cuba is exciting today," said Chris Ramey, president of Affluent Insights, Miami. "It is going to displace Miami as the number one destination.

"All eyes are on Cuba, particularly those with the capacity to build financial wealth. It has been off limits for so many years that in a short period of time it will become the hottest property in North America.

"The natural beauty of Cuba automatically makes it an attractive location, but the fact that its been off limits makes it a delicious one."

Mr. Ramey is not affiliated with Louis Vuitton, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Louis Vuitton was unable to respond by press deadline.

Art around the world

The Havana Biennale was originally established in 1984 with the intention of promoting Caribbean artists and giving them the chance to share their work internationally. While artists from all countries around the world are invited to submit work to the exhibition, it is primarily dedicated to helping those from the developing world.

Louis Vuitton is committed to highlighting the culture of Havana, its beautiful real estate and Cuban culture. Many of the pieces at the exhibition will interact with the city in tangible ways.

For example, British sculptor Anish Kapoor will be projecting a video inside a famous Havana cinema, and French conceptual artist Daniel Buren will be presenting work on the streets of the city and inside an abandoned train station. Italian painter and theorist Michelangelo Pistoletto will share his piece “Third Paradise,” which will include musicians performing at the Plaza de la Catedral.

Other artists Louis Vuitton will be sponsoring include Shilpa Gupta, Nikhil Chopra, José Yaque and local artist Carlos Garaicoa.

Louis Vuitton’s sponsorship will likely help artists at the Havana Biennale reach a larger audience and have a larger impact on the global art world. The brand is committed to promoting new ideas about travel and the arts, and this year’s Biennale is the perfect opportunity to expand those goals worldwide.

With Cuban-American relations on the mend and travel restrictions significantly reduced as of January, this year’s Biennale will be the first that American consumers can easily attend. Louis Vuitton’s support of the exhibition will likely encourage travelers to visit Havana for the event.

International cause

Because of the symbiotic relationship between art and luxury, many brands are eager to participate in prominent art exhibitions around the world. For example, when the 56th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition in Italy celebrated its opening weekend May 9, many luxury brands used the opportunity to connect with the affluent consumers who frequent the event.

Brands including Marni, Missoni and Jaeger-LeCoultre participated by hosting their own exhibitions and sponsoring artists whose work was on display. Luxury and the arts are closely connected, and it is important for brands to attend these large, international events to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and connect with patrons of the arts who may purchase products (see story).

Because there are many of these international art exhibitions around the world, there are many opportunities for collaboration. Earlier this year many luxury brands took advantage of Hong Kong Art Week March 14-21 to promote their products in different ways and appeal to artistically minded consumers in the Chinese city.

Many brands introduced initiatives that aimed to engage consumers visiting for the numerous events that took place that week. It is an excellent way to appeal to international affluents who are already looking to purchase and may be looking to enjoy themselves while traveling (see story).

The Havana Biennale will give Louis Vuitton a chance to be at the forefront of the Cuban revival.

"A good brand is an insider," Mr. Ramey said. "It provides a peek into the future.

"The exhibition absolutely will be a success. Cuba, despite it being a third world country, is a very sexy place today."

Final Take
Kay Sorin, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York