SAND: Mind, Medium, and Marketing

art education marketing

FAILED Cat Litter Promotion. "The sculpture stinks". Comic by Karen Strum

The sight, smell, and sound of sand can be powerful tools that evoke fond memories of childhood summers, bright sunshine, ocean waves, ice cream cones, salty air, and family comradeship. Sand sculptures are a powerful fine art and marketing medium that can leverage these associations to the commissioner's benefit.

The history of sand sculpting dates back to prehistoric times and is one of the oldest art forms in the world. Supposedly, Egyptians were known to produce sand sculptures of the great pyramids, although this is unfounded. The first documented sand sculptures were built in the nineteenth century in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 20th century saw a tremendous increase in the popularity of the art. Competitions were held at beach resorts with such sizable winnings that they attracted artists and spectators from around the globe.

November 15-19, 2017, ten master sculptors returned to Treasure Island, Florida, to compete in the 9th annual Sanding Ovations Masters Cup Sand Sculpture Competition and Music Festival. The competition is invitational, and has grown to be the largest masters competition in the Southeast United States. The competition has big appeal, with more than $12,000 is cash prizes being awarded to the top three sculptures and a People’s Choice sculpture. The photos in this blog are from some of their competitions.

Sculptors use a special kind of sand known as “heavy sand,” it is typically used in the foundations of construction projects. It is different than the sand on the beach because each grain is square which makes it stick together better. The first step in sand sculpture involves building wooden walls, or a “form”, to hold the sand. Much like you pack sand in a bucket for a sand castle, you “pound” the sand and add water to make it as compact as possible. A sand sculpture can literally have TONS of sand and take weeks to build the forms and pound it. Once the preparation is complete, the artist is able to carve the sculpture. They use almost anything to carve, most of the professional sculptors actually use cooking and dental utensils.

With the popularity of sand sculptures, I find it surprising that they are not more frequently used in marketing. Whether a company event, award ceremony, or convention, a sand sculpture demonstration is something attendees are sure to remember.

A sand sculpture lets your target audience know that your company thinks outside the box! Sand sculptures are a crowd puller that elicit a range of emotions from the audience including awe, inspiration, curiosity, disbelief and excitement. Whether you are on a beach or in the middle of a cornfield, a sand sculpture team can be hired to bring your idea to life. Combine it with other strategic marketing efforts, and you have a unique campaign that will set you apart from your competition.

Because sand sculptures conjure sentimentality, most people will subconsciously feel secure, serene, and even optimistic without even realizing why. This is a feeling most companies strive to achieve with their brand. Replicas of your products or the company logo can be be designed. Similar to how I source TV and radio advertising, a sculptor can be located.

Jimi Hendrix once wrote when describing the impermanence of life, “And so castles made of sand melt into the sea, eventually.” Marketing plans without a solid foundation fade away with the ebb and flow of the market. In order to have a permanent place in your industry you need a strong campaign that continues to strengthen over time. This is achieved through innovative, forward-thinking strategies that build long term customer loyalty. Next time you visit Florida, make sure you come during “Sanding Ovations” to get some creative ideas on how to work sand into your marketing.

SAND: Mind, Medium, and Marketing


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About the Author: Karen Strum is a Tampa Bay illustrator available for freelance projects. A unique cast of characters in her style can be designed for use in advertisements and materials for which you want something extra special. Karen's cartoons use retro imagery and vintage color palettes that add charm to every image she creates whether it is a comic, logo, diagram, book cover, or concept image. [Send an Email]


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