Wait, did Van Gogh and Monet unwittingly advertise Stella Artois?

Stella Artois ad
(Image credit: Stella Artois / GUT)

We've heard all kinds of theories about famous works of art, including suggestions of hidden messages and conspiracies. But one creative agency thinks it's found something else. Stella Artois.

Stella likes to talk up its history, and Buenos Aires-based GUT has ingeniously leaned into that. It set out to explore whether the beer may have found its way into famous masterpieces. Its conclusion, to borrow another beer brand's favourite adverb, is that it probably did (see our pick of the best print adverts for more inspiration).

Legend has it that the Stella Artois logo is the oldest in history. While that's not entirely accurate (the modern logo retains only a reference to the original Den Hoorn brewery's horn mark), it is true that Den Hoorn, founded in 1366, was one of the first companies on record as having some form of logo. With all that history, the team at GUT decided to try to calculate the chances that the beer in famous European artworks may have been brewed by Stella's ancestor. 

Copywriter Haroldo Moreira wrote on LinkedIn: "We developed an algorithm that analyzed each painting, and, based on variables such as the year when it was painted, geographical location, the type of glass, and the color of the liquid, we cross-referenced that data with the brand's extensive historical records, resulting in a percentage that indicates with a probability the presence of a Stella Artois in those paintings."

The Artois Probability campaign was undertaken in partnership with The Buenos Aires Museo de Bellas, which hosted an exhibit of the paintings analysed, allowing visitors to search for Stella in the paintings using their phones. The campaign also involved print ads and outdoor billboards depicting historic works of art by the likes of Van Gogh, Monet, Brueghel, Brouwer and Teniers.

"All masterpieces, whether of high or low probability, are part of our campaign, hoping that you will think of Stella Artois every time you see a beer in a painting," Moreira said. Beyond the question of whether we can really consider a Der Hoorn to be Stella Artois (the brewery became Artois in 1708 and Stella Artois in 1926), this has to be one of the most entertaining uses of data-based analysis in an ad campaign, and a great excuse to revisit some boozy works of art too. 

For more ad inspiration see our pick of the best billboard advertising. And don't miss Ikea's brave new advertising campaign that breaks the rulebook.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.