Opinion

How we pulled off the Banksy heist

Maura megan banksyIn this guest post, Megan Aney and Maura Tuohy explain how their social media skills helped them gain the inside information they needed to win the challenge to Steal Banksy‘s art work No Ball Games.

A Sunday night business trip turned into espionage when we scoped out The Art Series Hotels campaign to ‘Steal a Banksy’.

Before we had even arrived at The Blackman we were tweeting @stealbanksy for clues on the painting’s hidden location.

maura tweet

The tweeter behind @stealbanksy gave us a cryptic clue to begin our heist.

stealbanksy tweetOnce we arrived at The Blackman we spotted the loot behind reception. Through dinner we strategised about slipping in and lifting the art, but realised the security was too tight.

With no plan in place we dragged our feet back to our room to continue work for our Monday morning strategy meeting. A few hours later, in need of a distraction, we headed down to reception to further scope the prize.

But it was nowhere to be seen.

We trawled every level to see if the painting had been relocated, peeking around every corner and army-rolling out of elevators.

To no avail – it must have been behind closed doors.

We began to hatch the heist. From our earlier tweet we realised the Banksy would be en route from the Blackman to The Olsen, a sister Art Series hotel – the only question was when.

That’s when the real work began. We dug into LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google to source the names we would need to drop to impersonate an insider.

In the wee hours of the night we role played different scenarios to practice keeping cool to pull the wool over the eyes of the helpful, unknowing staff.

Early the next morning Maura headed down to reception posing as a PR lead from Naked Communications, the agency behind the activation, and Megan was on-call to corroborate nearly any story.

The next 20 minutes were a blur. The concierge, Rob, fired question after question, but Maura replayed the answers from the previous night’s rehearsal and he eventually took the bait.

Mid negotiation, Rob insisted he speak with the contact in charge of the campaign at the Olsen – and Megan played her role – explaining that there was a change in plan and that Maura was to leave with the painting.

At this point Rob agreed to walk the painting down to Maura’s car. The only issue – there was no getaway vehicle. As Maura pretended she forgot where the car was parked and wandered down the ramp looking for an exit, desperation descended.

Maura stopped at a random car – ready to admit defeat when she improvised: “We need packing materials for the painting. I can’t put it in the car like this, it will get scratched.”

The concierge handed over the painting and went off in search of the packing materials.

Heels off, and Banksy under arm, Maura made a run for it, and then calmly walked out of the front door with the painting.

It’s Gone! 2 #stealbanksy from Art Series Hotels on Vimeo.

banksy cctvWe met across the street, shedding tears of excitement while Rob on looked with defeat, realising he had been had.

  • Megan Aney is a Community Manager and Maura Tuohy is a social media strategist at Reprise Media
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