How Do You Show the Hidden Side of the Best-Known Artists in the World?

Advertising agency Rhubarb recently won two Gold Awards in Graphis’ Advertising 2023 Awards competition for their outstanding work on Netflix’s The Andy Warhol Diaries. This was an especially challenging project that required careful strategic planning and execution, making it all the more rewarding to see Rhubarb come away with its prestigious awards. As we review this campaign, we hope you’ll take a close look at how Rhubarb was able to capture the quintessential Warholian sentimentality while simultaneously captivating viewers—a true success story!

“The art you know. The artist you don’t.” This was the tagline and the North Star in creating the campaign for the docuseries “The Andy Warhol Diaries.” This series is based on the book of the same name and delivers a more vulnerable and honest portrayal of Andy Warhol than has ever been seen before. The goal was to create art that respected Warhol’s artistic style and vision without using his art in a literal way.

Netflix engaged Rhubarb to partner with them in marketing this series. The challenge was to find a way to represent one of the most prolific and iconic artists without using his art and avoiding cliches and overused imagery.

Jennie Wilkes Erlich (marketing director at Netflix) and Joel Barrios (marketing manager at Netflix) worked closely with executive producer Ryan Murphy and the Andy Warhol Foundation to ensure that the art was in line with Andy Warhol’s legacy and brand. For the project, Rhubarb was given a collection of original images to use as part of their artistic exploration for this project. “Sifting through the collection of images, many of which haven’t been seen by the public, seemed like a unique and special privilege,” said Ryan Jones, executive creative director at Rhubarb. “The editing process was extensive, trying to find the perfect images to tell the story, and we finally landed on a set of photos that worked beautifully for the campaign.”

The Art You Know

The main key art (above, left) was meant to evoke familiar elements of Andy Warhol’s art: the repetition of the same image in different bright, solid colors, forming a grid. As with Andy’s art using the silkscreen medium, each repetition varies slightly, making it more organic and natural and less mechanical and perfect.

The Artist You Don’t 

The secondary key art (above, right) was a striking image of Andy, positioned in front of a large-scale work of baroque art with an enigmatic expression on his face. Andy’s middle finger is slightly extended—was this on purpose, intended to convey a subtle message of subversion? At the same time, he appears to be hugging himself. The image portrays confidence and vulnerability at the same time, a dichotomy that is an undercurrent of the series.

The raw and real portrayal of the legendary Andy Warhol is highlighted through two pieces of key art, reflecting his remarkable life story. These two pieces of key art tandemly convey the docuseries’ raw and real portrayal of Andy Warhol while keeping in mind the legendary man behind the art.

To see more Advertising 2023 winners, click here. To enter our Advertising 2024 Awards competition, click here.

Author: Graphis