Viennese Modernism 2018

Vienna's major themed year 2018 ran under the slogan “Beauty and the Abyss. Klimt.Schiele.Wagner.Moser.” A hundred years earlier, four key protagonists of Viennese Modernism – the painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, the architect Otto Wagner and the universal artist Koloman Moser – all died. Viennese Modernism – the era when the four individuals named and many other personalities created magnificent works – is one of the most important art and cultural epochs in Austrian history. In 2018, the artistic works and numerous innovations from this era between creative burgeoning and global political inferno formed the theme for over 30 exhibitions and numerous special tours in Vienna.

The Vienna Tourist Board had already started advertising with the slogan in 2017 at the world’s largest tourism trade fair, ITB in Berlin; comprehensive B2B and B2C measures followed. In the course of 2017, the Vienna Tourist Board toured through nine metropolises around the world with “La Ronde of Viennese Modernism”, and in 2018 the campaign highlights described below were organized.


international prizes and awards
> 500
documented media reports worldwide


The Vienna Tourist Board’s multi award-winning Schiele campaign was seen in Hamburg, Cologne and London and in May 2018 in New York as well. Nudes by Egon Schiele were put on display to stimulate discussion of Viennese Modernism in the general public. Even a century on, Schiele’s explicit nudity caused a stir in the cosmopolitan city of New York, despite the fact that restrictions on advertisers varied widely. While a large-scale mural – depicting Egon Schiele’s “Reclining Woman” – could be mounted unaltered on the building at “Lafayette and Spring Street”, posters and city lights at Bryant Park subway station on Fifth Avenue and the surrounding bus stations had to be covered. The New Yorker magazine published uncovered images, on Facebook images had to be pixelated, although originally the information provided indicated otherwise. The slogan “100 years old but still too daring today” clearly also applies to the metropolis of New York.

Using the hashtag “#ToArtItsFreedom” the artworks received predominantly positive comments on Twitter, Instagram and other social networks, and influencers from the field of art took part in the discussion. The media reported on the controversial campaign, generating a considerable amount of attention for Vienna and the collection at the Leopold Museum in the highly competitive advertising market of New York.


media reports in 12 countries
460 million
contacts total reach on and offline (1st and 2nd edition)


Overall the campaign, which attracted considerable attention both in the media and in social media, had a potential total reach of around 460 million contacts in the first phase (Germany and Great Britain, fall 2017) and the second phase (New York, spring 2018). The campaign also received numerous awards: In April 2018, it won the “Social Media/Social Media Activation” award at the ADC Awards in Germany, followed in May by seven of the coveted awards given by the “Creativ Club Austria“ along with the title “Customer of the Year”, and in October at webAD 2018 it won a gold prize in the category “Best Integrated Campaign (Crossmedia)”. In January 2019, this campaign won the gold prize in the category “Integrated Marketing Campaign” at the renowned Adrian Awards of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, the global tourism marketing network headquartered in the USA. In May 2019 this was followed by another Gold CCA award in the category “out of home: non classic".

Webby nomination and Cannes Lions: In spring 2019, the campaign also made it to the shortlist of the prestigious Webby Awards given by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences in New York City (USA) often referred to as the “Internet Oscars”. The campaign was nominated in the categories “Advertising, Media & PR: Best Media Strategy" and "Social: Arts & Entertainment”. In June 2018, #ToArtItsFreedom had already made it to the shortlist in the “Media” category at Cannes Lions.

CCA Awards: 2 x Gold, 3 x Silber, 2 x Bronze & „Customer of the Year“ WebAD: Gold; Adrian Awards: Gold; ADC Awards: Distinction


The first publicity campaign of 2018 revolved around fashion and patterns from the era of Viennese Modernism. The Vienna Tourist Board had invited Viennese fashion designer and creative director of the Italian fashion label “Fay,” Arthur Arbesser, to design a capsule collection inspired by Viennese Modernism. For this special collection, Arthur Arbesser used specially made fabrics from the textile manufacturer Backhausen, with patterns by Koloman Moser and Josef Hoffmann. The collection was staged by photographer Elfie Semotan and supermodels Cordula Reyer and Helena Severin. Highlights of this “Viennese Wardrobe” were first presented at Fashion Week in Milan in February 2018, after which they were seen in Arbesser’s showroom at Fashion Week in Paris.

To illustrate the inspiration for the collection, the Vienna Tourist Board advertised using original Wiener Werkstätte fashion photographs from the archives of the Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art during the Fashion Weeks in Milan and Paris. From the highly regarded catwalk of Fashion Week in Milan and the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, the collection went on to Vienna, where this successful cooperation also was presented to local audiences here. From October 3, 2018 to March 4, 2019, the photographs of Elfie Semotan entitled “A Viennese Wardrobe. Created by Arthur Arbesser, photographed by Elfie Semotan” were on display in the atrium of the Leopold Museum.

The campaign generated more than 50 media reports in six countries and with all the online and offline measures, including media work, achieved a potential total reach of 54 million contacts. With the most important creative awards in the country, the “Creativ Club Austria“ awards, the Vienna Tourist Board and its agencies won awards for this campaign five times: twice with silver in the categories “Overall Campaign” and “Branded Content” and three times with bronze in “Promotion & Sales Promotion,” “Art, Culture, Event Poster” and “Art Direction.”


media reports in 6 countries
54 million

Every kiss is unique

With a B2C campaign focused on Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” – often copied, but to be seen in the original only in Vienna – in spring of 2018 the Vienna Tourist Board appealed to the target group of art lovers in China, Japan and South Korea. Using a focused digital campaign with various videos revolving around Klimt’s Kiss, reinforced by the major social media, selected influencers and out-of-home media, Vienna invited viewers to visit the original at the Austrian Gallery Belvedere. As a highlight of the campaign, the Vienna Tourist Board invited the Chinese copyist and Klimt specialist Xiucun Gan to Vienna. Cooperation with the media and luxury tour operators ensured the widespread dissemination of Vienna’s message.