Tate Britain: 100 Years of Stories

Using words, we tell the real human stories behind the art at Tate Britain.

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Tate Britain: 500 Years of Stories from Grey London on Vimeo.

A Forgotten Icon

Tate Britain is one of London’s most iconic museums and tourist destinations. But in 2015, it was experiencing falling visitor numbers and needed to grow footfall.

We Had To Broaden Its Appeal

Tate Britain’s founding mission was to make art accessible to everyone, but our analysis found that younger, more diverse groups were under-represented. So the communications objective became to make Tate Britain feel relevant to them.

The Real Problem: People Feel Stupid In Art Galleries

Our qualitative interviews found that our audience feel embarrassed and stupid in galleries, because the art seems impenetrable and intellectual. So they stay away.

Have You Heard About The Guy Who Cut Off His Own Ear?

Visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the strategist saw it was rammed. There was excited chatter – not about brushstrokes or painting techniques - about how he lopped off his own ear. With all the intrigue of the best movie characters, this gave people something to talk about.

The Insight

People get excited about art when they hear the real, human stories behind it.

It was the stories that could help more people appreciate the art

We defined the role for communication as being to tell stories about the art, so visceral, exciting and intriguing that people would have to go to the gallery to see it. We needed to tell the real human stories behind the art at Tate Britain. 

Hunting For Our Art Stories

We interviewed the curators to find fascinating tales of betrayal, grief, addiction, inequality and loss. Like Francis Bacon’s struggle with homosexuality and the scandalous death of his partner. Queen Elizabeth’s portrait being painted with no shadow, so that she always looked perfect. These and others became our featured artworks.

The Creative Solution: Long Copy Stories

Instead of images of the art, we told the stories behind it in beautifully written long copy. It ran in high dwell time print and outdoor. In cinema and Instagram, we stripped out the image and left people with just the powerful words of the stories.

Campaign Success

Over the period of the campaign, Tate Britain website visits increased, and footfall grew +55% YOY. The campaign has also been awarded 15 Cannes Lions across print, radio, integration and design and APG awards for transformational thinking.


Grey London is an open and diverse crew of thinkers, dreamers and doers on a mission to become the most progressive, creative agency in the world.