Dave Trott
May 08, 2017

Dave Trott's blog: A load of bull

The author explains why Arturo Di Modica, the artist behind the 'bull' on Wall Street, hates the recently installed 'Fearless Girl' bronze statue

Dave Trott's blog: A load of bull
"Fearless Girl" is the bronze statue in front of the charging bull on Wall Street.
It was placed there on 7 March for International Women’s Day.
It’s a clever idea because it looks as if a little girl is defying the bull.
It’s proved so popular that New York City has extended the permit from one week to one year. 
This provoked the artist who made the bull into threatening to sue the city.
Obviously, his threat caused outrage and everyone thinks he’s an idiot.
But Greg Fallis tells another side to the story, which started 30 years ago.
In 1987, there was a global stock market crash.
On Wall Street, firms were closing, people were losing their jobs, confidence was rock bottom.
There are two kinds of trends in financial markets.
A bear market is when the trend is down and everyone sells.
A bull market is when the trend is up and everyone buys.
The sculptor Arturo Di Modica had recently become a US citizen.
He was feeling patriotic and wanted to make a gesture.
So he planned a sculpture of a giant charging bull, symbolising the bull market, to raise morale on Wall Street.
He paid for it himself and, without permission, he installed it.
It weighed three tons and cost $350,000.
Over the years, it’s become a symbol of energy and belief for everyone who works on Wall Street. 
Fast-forward 30 years to today and Fearless Girl.
Arturo Di Modica is furious that this new statue has changed the meaning of his bull "from prosperity and strength into a villain".
He is outraged by the fact that Fearless Girl wasn’t paid for by the artist, like his bull was.
Fearless Girl is actually an advertising campaign for State Street Global Advisors, which is a $2.4 trillion business.
It was commissioned for its Gender Diversity Index Fund.
The fund is called SHE.
At the base of the statue is a plaque saying: "Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference."
So it’s actually a really clever advertising campaign.
I can see why Arturo Di Modica is upset – I would be too if I paid for the bull that was then hijacked by a global corporation.
But I can also see why Fearless Girl is a great idea, because it’s a terrific ad for State Street Global Advisors.
And it’s exactly because of the reason that Arturo Di Modica objects to.
The cleverness of taking what exists and, with a simple change, altering the entire context to give it a totally new meaning.
And yet I can also sympathise with Arturo Di Modica as an artist.
His sculpture is a far superior piece of work.
His bull has muscles, and power, and life, and movement.
The other statue has none of that.
His bull has been snorting and charging all on its own for 30 years.
But without the bull, the other statue is nothing.
So I understand his anger but, once again, that’s exactly what makes it so clever.
It’s taken what exists and, with a small touch, repurposed it into a terrific advertising campaign.
Ultimately, everything he objects to is what makes it great.
And the controversy his objection creates just generates more free advertising. 
(Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three. This article first appeared on CampaignLive.co.uk)
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