Recently, as a part of its campaign to celebrate Lionel Messi, Budweiser commissioned murals depicting the iconic footballer’s life and journey. The murals were displayed in prominent spots – Delhi’s Hauz Khaz and Chapel Road in Bandra, Mumbai.
However, the brand seems to have painted its murals over some already existing iconic street art in both places, enraging the artist and creator community. St+art India Foundation, an organisation that works to promote street art and which had commissioned the Delhi murals, took to social media to highlight Budweiser’s campaign, calling it ‘blatant advertising under the name of street art’. In its post, the foundation claims that its earliest murals in Delhi – by artists Okuda San Miguel and Mariusz Waras – go back as far as 2014 and have been replaced by Budweiser overnight.
Several artists, residents and creators have also taken to social media to voice their dissent.
Post the backlash, Budweiser India issued a statement, taking to its Instagram stories. The brand said, “We have always believed in the power of art and have worked with multiple artists over the years to build a strong foundation that is supportive towards the creator community. As part of curating these murals, we reached out to multiple artists including Start India [sic], and collaborated with artists that met our creative and commercial direction through these illustrations that curated over months and even restored the walls. Our aim was always to offer the insider perspective into the G.O.A.T’s iconic journey and inspire fans through creative murals that celebrated his journey. We continue to support the creator community.”
Animal, the international agency behind the campaign, was also at the receiving end of a backlash. The agency’s statement on social media mentions how it is an ‘advertising and design agency that provided the campaign idea and the design for the artworks’. The statement also mentions that Animal isn’t involved in scouting for locations, a job that is the media agency’s.
Further, the agency put out another story directed at St+art India Foundation, that shows the latter quoting its price for the same Budweiser mural project. However, several social media users have dissed Animal’s attempt to show St+art India in a poor light.