Breaking taboos with Maybelline Berlin: Tape and graffiti advertising for mental health awareness
Basa Studio client Maybelline Berlin has always had the secrets to contouring, concealing or highlighting our features, but recently they turned their attention to a philanthropic mission. To promote their #BraveTogether initiative in support of women living with anxiety and depression, we got 4 female street artists to transform a 30-meter-long wall into a large-scale mural, bringing beauty, art, and activism together through tape art and graffiti advertising.
The mural depicts 4 different women bravely breaking the taboo of mental health by expressing their own vulnerable emotions. This was the perfect campaign for artistic intervention, because through their creations the artists convey emotions expressing what we often cannot in words.
Brought to life in 3 days at the famous East Side Gallery in Berlin, this collaborative mural has found its place beside hundreds of celebrated artworks representing unity and togetherness.
The project: Maybellin Berlin x 4 female street artists
In collaboration with Basa Studio, artists Fabifa, Caro Pepe, Anne Bengard, and LaMia from Tape Over were tasked with each painting an emotion outlined by Maybelline Berlin. The challenge was to depict a woman embracing vulnerability; she should not be mistaken for helpless, but instead revered.
Using the campaign's existing color palette of bright blue, orange and pink, the aim was to encourage women to be open about emotions sometimes characterized as weak, dark, sad or broken. The message also had to reassure women that there are supportive resources. Most importantly, women should see the mural and feel included, and inclined to join the global #BraveTogether movement.
Basa Studio’s solution = mural design
We decided on a large-scale mural of 30 meters, giving the artists 6 meters each and devoting the remaining wall to the logo. Different expressions of emotion called for different artists and artistic mediums. The expertise we’d gained working with tape and graffiti artists for previous projects such as PENNY: A successful supermarket transformation and Sweet celebrations: A graffiti advert for Katjes confirmed our vision of using graffiti advertising on a street already known for creative murals – something new for Maybelline Berlin that could reach a diverse demographic.
With the brightly colored eye-level mural, the #BraveTogether message magnified emotions and made them hyper-visible. It was also an artistic performance that could be witnessed from start to finish, reaching people not only through branding but through creativity.
The mural appeals not just to Maybelline’s loyal beauty fans, but also to a younger audience who may be experiencing mental health issues for the first time, as well as people who do not follow the brand on social media, but live in Berlin and pass the popular landmark frequently. During the process we focused on provoking people to stop, gaze and reflect on the message. It’s all about creating a sensory and cognitive experience.
We thought who better to make an indelible impact than 4 women working as street artists, some of whom are feminists, and whose art already addresses issues surrounding freedom of expression and imperfections. As the artists worked alongside each other, what emerged was a powerful and talented collaboration and an original campaign for Maybelline Berlin.
The East Side Gallery
It was important to move this important conversation out from behind closed doors and onto the streets of Berlin. Where better than the remnants of the old Berlin wall located on the banks of the Spree, where the 1316 meters that were not knocked down have become known as the East Side Gallery? Repurposed as the world's longest open-air gallery, it’s a sight to behold, housing hundreds of works of street art. It’s where graffiti comes to life; an uncommon place for a beauty brand campaign that – with the added allure of tape art – is unexpected yet brilliant.
Women in street art: tape art and graffiti advertising
Straight lines and clear, flawless contrasts were created between the bright orange, pink, blue and red tape, which then met saturated spray paint colors. While some artworks rendered realistic depictions in this large format, others embodied more graphic and abstract forms.
Starting on the left, you first encounter tape advertising and the face of a shouting woman carefully outlined against a bright pink backdrop. She is yelling, expressing herself; rather than holding back, getting everything off her chest. She is not ashamed, but adamant about expressing herself openly. The ability to do so can be a daunting experience for many living with anxiety and depression, which is why it holds so much power. Fabifa’s art shows that:
“It is ok to not be ok, to be vulnerable and to show emotion. If you choose to be free, you must fight for your way. It’s time to be brave and stay on your way. My art is about this fight for freedom. You should be strong to be weak.” – Fabifa
Caro Pepe, with her spray paint and passion for turning our gaze to the fragmented self and our imperfections, depicted a woman laughing and crying at the same time. Against a soft blue background, she wanted to show a woman who is hopeful. Her current mood does not overwhelm her.
“She is not only overcome with emotion, she has overcome something. This laugh is both happy and sad. I’ve been thinking, perhaps – it's relief.” – Caro Pepe
Alongside her, a woman formed from spray paint conveys sadness by burying her face in her hands. You can’t see her expression, but you can feel or sense her pain. She actually has 4 hands, which she uses to comfort herself and to feel some sort of solace or release.
“It’s an introverted, melancholy, silent sadness. She wants a moment to herself, maybe there is a little bit of shame, but with her double hands she hugs herself suggesting it will be fine.” – Anne Bengard
#BraveTogether: behind the scenes
The project was not without its challenges. When they said #BraveTogether, they meant it. Ladders flying, spray paint decorating the air and tape performing a ribbon dance, the artists were faced with whirlwind conditions during production.
Technical challenges were confronted by the tape artists, who had to get their tape onto a wall made of silicone – the one material tape does not stick to – but they managed to make it work. For 3 days, with every layer of clothing, they braved the weather, and the end result was a blend of empowering artistic styles that created one ephemeral mural.
Beauty & street art: bringing creatives together
There is something very powerful that happens when tape and graffiti advertising is used for the unexpected purpose of a beauty brand campaign. It was unfamiliar territory for Maybelline Berlin, but the team at Basa Studio and our amazing artists created more than a one-off message – this artwork was an intervention and encouraged a new approach to beauty advertising, one which celebrates creativity, because this is what this industry is all about. The #BraveTogether mural helped reach more women in Berlin, giving them hope and lightening the load.
Check out this video for more behind-the-scenes footage:
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