Revealing the Artful Soul of Milwaukee: The ‘See What They See’ Campaign

In this Advertising Awards 2024 entry, a hidden treasure map of sculptures awaits discovery, and a world-class outdoor gallery is veiled amidst the bustling heart of Milwaukee. Faced with illuminating this artistic wonder for everyday Milwaukeeans, Nelson Schmidt developed the “See What They See” campaign, bridging the unassuming citizens and the sophisticated artistry around them. Through the campaign, they inspired a citywide journey of artistic discovery, inviting all to appreciate and enjoy these urban masterpieces in their own unique way.

By: Rachel Bertsch

Milwaukee is home to one of the world’s largest sculpture exhibits. But many locals don’t even know some of the artwork they see on the street is an interconnected sculpture gallery spanning more than five square miles throughout the heart of the city.

This is the challenge Sculpture Milwaukee brought to our advertising agency, Nelson Schmidt. Our goal was to bring awareness to the masses and encourage everyday Milwaukeeans to open their eyes to the art they can experience for free daily. 

While digging into this challenge, we came across the insight that sparked the idea for the campaign: non-artsy people were intimidated by the artsy people who knew about and enjoyed all that Sculpture Milwaukee offered. So we couldn’t just tell people the exhibit existed. We first had to invite them into the art world in an approachable way.

To do this, we partnered with recognizable Milwaukeeans who shared their inner thoughts on their favorite sculptures. These artsy yet approachable personalities showed non-artsy people in the city that it was okay to think about the artwork however they wanted and that they didn’t need to be part of the art world to appreciate the sculptures in their own way.

We then worked with Milwaukee photographer David Szymanski to create fantastical worlds of objects, shapes, and colors that reflected the quirky personalities of the subjects and made the campaign a beautiful work of art itself. We purposefully didn’t feature sculptures in the campaign because we wanted to create a groundswell of intrigue that inspired people to get out into the streets and see what the stars of the campaign see. 

The “See What They See” campaign for Sculpture Milwaukee was all the more special for our locally-based team to create because it focused on bringing joy to our neighbors and helped remind the people of our city just how wonderful Milwaukee is.

Rachel Bertsch is creative director at Nelson Schmidt. She is a conceptual creative with a deep understanding of the human experience. Rachel has more than 10 years of experience in creative strategy with a strong focus on user experience and visual design. She has served as a digital and creative strategist on both the agency and client side for many global companies and non-profit organizations. Her experience spans brand development, creative direction, user experience, and interface design. Rachel is a professional who fully understands modern brand strategy and the ability to deliver beautiful creative work.

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Author: Graphis