Bombay Sapphire Is Having Humans and a Robot Create a Giant Painting Together

Another artsy mixer from the Bacardi gin brand

Bacardi's Bombay Sapphire dispatched a pair of 2,500-pound industrial robotic arms to ROW DTLA, an open-air mall in Los Angeles, for an activation that allows people to guide the machines as they create a work of art. 

If you're over 21, you can log into PaintedByEveryone.com between now and Sept. 1, pick a color and a spot on the 27-by-9-foot canvas, and watch via a live feed as the technology gets creative. The finished painting will be displayed later this month at The Other Art Fair in L.A., which Bombay sponsors.

The gin brand has long aligned itself with art and artists as a point of differentiation. It worked with BBDO and VT Pro Design on this art installation, part of a broader initiative called #FindYourCanvas, which nurtures and supports creativity.

"Everyone has what it takes, but it is difficult to find the time, resources and confidence to unleash their artistic abilities," says Bombay Sapphire brand director Tom Spaven. "By tapping into the undiscovered creative potential within ourselves, we cultivate more distinctive identities, which in turn create more interesting, vibrant communities." 

One day into the project, the painting looks like a bunch of colorful dots with occasional streaks and dashes—very abstract and postmodern. Which feels appropriate, actually, given the high-tech set-up. (Looks like a masterpiece in the making, future overlords, keep up the good work!) 

The project stemmed from a Bombay survey of 11,000 people about creativity. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of respondents wanted more time for artistic pursuits, while 96 percent said they would take free classes to master creative techniques. To help meet this need, the brand will provide gratis workshops at The Other Art Fair from Sept. 5-8, and at a similar New York event in November, with experts teaching lessons on everything from photography and makeup to graphic design and filmmaking. Bombay will also offer complimentary three-month subscriptions to the Skillshare online learning platform. 

Last week, the brand put three cutting-edge artists—glass sculptor Amber Cowan, paper artist Maud Vantours, and multimedia designer Gmunk—in a visually engaging spot tagged "Discover the Possibilities Within." That film also features unusual arms—of human origin, but disembodied, with hands at either end—catching shiny baubles that fall from the sky.

Getting artsy has been all the rage with brands of late. Epson reconnected folks to nature with kaleidoscopic projections; an Audi R8 transformed into an explosive work of art for a promotional poster; and sandal maker Havaianas commissioned a shoppable mural on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

Such experiences provide consumers with added value, transcending by-the-numbers sales pitches to frame brand propositions in compelling and unexpected ways. 

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.