Jeff Soto for Chevy

April 23rd, 2012 | By | 7 Comments »

Jeff Soto recently worked with Chevy on an ad for the Chevy Sonic. I’ve got some problems with advertising, advertisers working with artists and advertising that co-opts street art and graffiti to sell dumb crap. But I’m pleasantly surprised that this advertisement actually kind of works. At the end of the day, the world is left with a new mural by Jeff Soto, and that mural doesn’t have a massive Chevy logo on it, just an engine block. Is the concept a bit cheesy? Perhaps. Is calling the piece “street art” irritating? Sure, but expected. Even I oversimplify at times by calling murals (or in this case, pseudo-murals) street art. And the ad still way better than 90% of the street-art-related advertisements out there. So, an awkward kudos to Chevy for not screwing this up, I guess…

Also, Eine later modified the mural.

Via Arrested Motion


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  • DD

    Horrendous. I have a problem with “graffiti” artists who show their faces as they’re clearly so far removed from real graffiti that the idea of being anonymous is beyond them. To not only show your face because you don’t have to deal with police because of your profile but also plaster it on an advert is vile.

  • that’s awesome work for Soto. However: It’s a travesty that car companies are more interested in selling more cars than they are designing something non reliant to fossil fuels. And even worst is, the public keeps buying the same message. 

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  • prpr

    RJ – you missed that chevy is copying the look and feel of some of Evan Roth & collaborators projects, without credit and as a workaround given those folks don’t work with advertisers, & using Soto to make it seem ok/cool. if you look at the mural and the parts painted with the car, you see the car/robot is just a cool factor and adds nothing but background for the mural (the impressive painting skills part is Soto’s handiwork and they don’t show the details being made although those make up the overall idea of the cool mural, not withstanding Soto acting like (1) he is collaborating with the robot & (2) he can paint precise lines with the robot – why not show him painting at least some of the key subject matter portions of the mural with the car if i am wrong on this).

    examples of projects they’re pirating:
    Golan Levine’s robot tagger: http://www.graffitimarkuplanguage.com/robotic-graffiti-tagger/
    paintball robot tagging: http://fffff.at/paintball-shooting-robot-writes-tempt1-tag/
    & there is a spray can pov: http://fffff.at/graffiti-analaysis-pov-can/
    (hat tip to Evan Roth, who noted some of this in a tweet)

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  • As for how much “skill,” the robotic arm has, it should be obvious that, yes, the robotic arm really just does the simple work. But I don’t find that particularly relevant. At the end of the day, Chevy can tell whatever silly story it wants to tell about their car doing street art or whatever, but the important thing for me that that Chevy essentially paid for a new Soto mural without sticking their logo all over it. I care more about the real-world result than the advertiser’s dreamland.

    Do you think Soto is upset that they didn’t show more shots of him painting the detailed elements? It doesn’t fit with the storyline of the ad. Yes, perhaps that’s unfortunate, but at the end of the day I assume Soto was paid for his services Chevy can cut the ad how they want. Again, I’m more concerned with the real-world result of the ad than the way the ad is edited. If they had excluded Soto’s name entirely or something along those lines though, I’d agree that that might be very upsetting even if Soto had agreed to it. On the contrary, Chevy’s make it clear that it’s Jeff Soto “collaborating” with the robot. For me though, that’s a line I’d rather not see crossed. I’m alright with them not showing Soto painting every little bit. Also, not that this is a particularly key segment of the film, but, around 2:50, there is a timelapse that shows Soto painting the majority of the mural with the robot/car.

    I think your points about Evan Roth and Golan Levine’s projects are much more valid. It’s impossible to say for sure since I don’t think the robotic car is a straight rip of those projects, but it seems extremely likely that various projects using graffiti markup language at least inspired the ad. It’s unfortunate that some people, such as these advertisers, chose to believe that phrases like “free art and technology” and “copyleft” mean “don’t credit me for my work.” Thanks for bringing this up. Perhaps is the general lack of sleep that comes with the end of the school year, or perhaps the advertising was just affective on me, but Evan’s work didn’t even pop into my head when looking at this project, even though I’m familiar with it.

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