This Paris Museum Is Trying to Become a Tourist Icon, by Acting Like It Was One Already

Pompidou Centre's clever souvenir stunt

When visiting a new country for the first (and possibly last) time, it's normal to have a list of priorities. But what makes the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur or the Notre Dame must-sees over anything else in the city of Paris, say? 

This is the quagmire the Pompidou Center faces. 

It's existed for over 40 years, houses a modern and contemporary art collection that rivals MoMA and the Tate Modern, lives dead-center of the coolest area in Paris, and is housed in a building that looks like nothing else in the world (never mind its Haussmann sisters). It was made with the guts on the outside and color-coded, demonstrating how buildings function in a compelling visual way.

It's got everything it needs for pop status. Still, the Pompidou Center doesn't register with tourists the way, say, the Louvre does. Thus, it engaged Publicis agency Marcel, which decided to give it souvenir-worthy cred in a grassroots, super-sneaky way. 

#SouvenirsDeParis by Centre Pompidou

All the big tourist sites of Paris bear a natural fruit of demand: Because they attract so much tourism, street sellers sell statues and keychains of the buildings right outside. So Marcel created its own statues of the Pompidou Center, sold them across existing kiosks and stores, and deployed its own crew of bilingual, art-savvy, super-friendly street merchants across existing city hot-spots. 

It's classic guerrilla, on-site mind hacking. 

Reinforcing that, and in addition to schooling them on the merits of Kandinsky and Chagall, street dealers even told people that Pompidou was part of what they called the "Big Five" collectible must-sees of Paris—the Sacré Coeur, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower being the other four. (The Louvre is notably missing. Checkmate.)

We assume people usually buy souvenirs of stuff they've seen already. Marcel's betting that that very occasion is the perfect place to sell them not only another keepsake but an unplanned experience, and they've tried to make that adventure as easy as possible: The blitz included free shuttles and, when you turn the statuette upside down, a QR code that steers you to the Pompidou Center, no matter where you are in the city. 

While it isn't clear yet what results this has wrought, it would be easy to gauge just by seeing whether or not the culture absorbs this Trojan horse without a ripple: This time next year, how long will the lines be for the museum? And once Marcel's moved on to something new, will souvenir stores and street dealers still be selling Pompidou statues? 

That level of artistic manipulation is worth watching develop.

CREDITS

Agency: Marcel (groupe Publicis)
CEOs: Pascal Nessim / Charles Georges-Picot
CCO: Anne de Maupeou
Creative Directors: Youri Guerassimov / Gaëtan du Peloux
Copywriter: Antonin Jacquot
Art Director: Clément Sechet / Aurélie Halbmeyer
Motion: Arnaud Raquin
Partner: Blandine Mercier
Account Manager: Noëlla Neffati
Project Managers: Claire Sioufi / Jeanne Philippe
CSO & Managing Partner: Nicolas Levy
Social Media Manager: Julien Petit / Romain Jouffriault
RP: Leila Touiti-Rose / Catherine Helfenstein

Production Company: Artisans du Film
Director: Guillaume Talvas
Producer: Valéry du Peloux
DOP: Nils Runiet / Niels Benoist
Camera: Pierre Bernier / Frédéric Ouziel
Sound: Valentin Verrier
First Assistant Director: Nadia Moussa
Production Coordinator: Laura Fague Martin
Camera Assistant: Maxime Maujan
Editing: Guillaume Talvas
Editing Assistant: Cécile Valente
Post-Production Supervisor: Thibaud Colignon
Sound Mixer: Charli Masson
Colorist: Johan Tür

Post-Production: ADF L'atelier
Music: David Makima
Print Production Company: Prodigious
Producer: Suzanne Pereira Dias / Nathalie Turmel
Model Maker: Mathieu Andrieu
Photographer: Aurélie Halbmeyer
Retoucher: David Verduci

Média: Blue 449
CEO: Pascal Crifo
Head of Digital trading: Julie Emberger
Social Media Strategist: Théo Ravel de Fereirolles
Head of Brand Activation: Fouad Hachani
Endorsement & KOL: Carmelle Basset-Chercot

MSL
CEO Publicis Consultants: Clément Leonarduzzi

Centre Pompidou
Director of Communications and Public Relations: Benoit Parayre
Director of Audience engagement and Education: Catherine Guillou
Assistant Director of Communications and Public Relations: Marc-Antoine Chaumien
Chief of Audience Engagement: Cécile Venot
Head of digital: Paul Mourey
Chief Press Officer: Elodie Vincent
Assistant Chief of Audience Engagement: Aurélie Jourde
Video Production Manager: Isabelle Danto
Social Media Manager: Chloé Tournès
Executive Assistant: Catherine Legoux