The beer giant is being accused of hijacking India’s burgeoning street art scene for commercial gains, as well as painting on a school wall.
Leading beer brand Budweiser India is facing heat online because it painted murals of Argentine footballer Lionel Messi over decades-old beloved street art in Mumbai (Chapel Road, Bandra) and Delhi (Hauz Khas Village).
In response to Budweiser’s murals, St+art India Foundation, a non-profit organisation that promotes street art in India, remarked, “This is not art. This is blatant advertising in the name of street art.”
St+art India went on to say that the murals were painted over “some of our earliest murals in Delhi” at Hauz Khas by Spanish painter and sculptor Okuda San Miguel and Mariusz Waras, a Polish artist who goes by the name of M-city.
In its post, St+art India also criticised Budweiser for painting over Miguel’s work on a school wall. “It is unethical for an alcohol brand to advertise on a school wall.”
Mohammed Abood Uraibi, an Iraqi-born DJ, MC and promoter, who's best known as DJ MoCity, posted snaps on Twitter of Chapel Road, Bandra where Messi murals covered the iconic artworks from Bollywood Art Project that had, for many, become one of Bandra’s most-loved spots.
Bollywood Art Project, which began in 2012, is an urban project which aims to transform Mumbai’s walls into a living memorial to Bollywood. Ranjit Dahiya, a Mumbai-based graphic designer, is behind this project.
Agency Gandu, an Instagram handle notorious for its hilarious take on agency culture, called out Budweiser and Animal, an independent creative agency that was behind this project.
Post the reaction to the murals, Budweiser India posted a story on its Instagram handle that read, “We have always believed in the power of art and have worked with multiple artists over the years to build a strong foundation that is supportive towards the creator community. As part of curating these murals, we reached out to multiple artists, including St+art India, and collaborated with artists that met our creative and commercial direction through these illustrations that curated over months and even restored the walls. Our aim was always to offer the insider perspective into the G.O.A.T’s (Messi’s) iconic journey and inspire fans through creative murals that celebrated his journey. We continue to support the creator community."
Wicked Broz, a graffiti agency that was part of this project, apologised for its participation and said it will do its best to correct this mistake in future.
The murals were part of a 360-degree Budweiser 0.0 campaign to celebrate Messi’s journey. To kick off the campaign, the brand launched special edition custom-designed Messi bottles, along with a digital film titled ‘Greatness is Brewed over Nights’, and the murals, of course.
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