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Fake Smithsonian Ads Highlight Hardcoreness of Historic Figures; Museum Not Pleased

Jenny Burrows and Matt Kappler teamed up to create “Historically Hardcore,” a lovingly crafted series of ads for the Smithsonian that one-up the exploits of modern-day rockers and rappers with tales of historic figures, well, being hardcore.

The ads are not official Smithsonian copy, however, but were a portfolio project for both artists. At that, over the past few days they have stirred up a ton of interest in history and in the Smithsonian online, particularly among the younger audience they were trying to reach with their light tone and contemporary references.

Mission accomplished, right? The Smithsonian didn’t think so. Burrows writes that shortly after the ads went viral and she began receiving requests from local media outlets, she got in touch with the Smithsonian to make sure they were square.

Well, they were less than pleased about the attention the posters were getting and requested that I take them down immediately. Honestly, i don’t blame them. If someone put something out there with my name on it, I wouldn’t be too happy about it either, no matter how awesome it was.

I immediately complied, getting rid of any trace of the museum’s logo, name, and building on the posters and my portfolio site they were posted to. I’m not really one that goes around trying to piss people off. Especially government-run facilities.

As Burrows points out, the Smithsonian’s reaction is understandable from a branding perspective, but it is really a shame that it pushed away free, effective ads that engaged young people.

The other ads below:

(Behance via O’Reilly Radar | Artist’s sites)

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