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Getty Museum ads try hip humor to lure KROQ listeners and YouTubers

March 27, 2009 |  9:45 am

If you see a Rembrandt walking toward you in a crowd, you may be hallucinating. Or perhaps you should call the LAPD's art-theft unit. Or -- and this is most likely -- you're being targeted by the Getty Museum's current advertising campaign grounded in the humorously hip.

This narration-free video, dubbed "Heads," shows folks going about their daily business with framed paintings and other images from the Getty's collection where their necks and craniums should be; it ends with the written legend "The Getty. It stays with you." It's being shown on cable outlets, in Laemmle movie theaters and right here on YouTube.

Meanwhile, KROQ radio listeners, along with their emo, rap-metal and Kevin & Bean, are getting some youth-oriented art proselytism, nouveau-Getty style.

"The Getty is an extremely high source of inspiration," a deadpan narrator begins in each of the three  versions of the spot, which together are running 19 times a week. "As such, exposure to the art may cause you to experience some of the following:"

Listen here to the three spots, then turn the page for our favorite symptoms.

"You understand why 'Dogs Playing Poker' is an affordable painting."

"Instead of TiVo-ing the game, you record it in a series of hand-drawn manuscripts."

"You break down everything you see into light and form, instead of your standby: good-looking or edible."

"Not only do you understand the full scope of the human condition,  you can put it in a haiku."

"Mankind's one fatal error reveals itself to you, but to keep yourself amused you tell no one."

"You understand Einstein, but see holes in his game."

The spots began airing last fall on the now-defunct punk-alternative rock station, Indie 103.1, then moved to KROQ-FM (106.7).

As for their efficacy, a Getty spokeswoman said a survey of museum attendees showed that 8% had seen the video and that comments were favorable; there won't be any feedback on the radio spots until a survey in April. Whether it's the ads, or simply a lousy economy making the Getty's free-admission policy all the more attractive, museum officials said earlier this month that attendance so far this year has been up over 2008.

-- Mike Boehm

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