A herd of “urban cows” will be put to pasture throughout Atlanta in early June through September as part of Atlanta Cowparade 2003, a global art exhibit. 

        Cowparade, now a worldwide charitable fundraising phenomenon, got its start in Zurich in 1998 when Swiss sculptor Pascal Knapp created three life-sized, fiberglass cow “canvases” to be displayed on city streets as a way to get his artwork in the public eye.

        As the exhibition grew, local artists were commissioned to paint the cows and local businesses agreed to sponsor the artwork and maintenance of the public sculptures.

        Georgia businesses are now invited to sponsor one of the 200 bovines to be delivered to area artists for decoration this month, according to Alan McKeon, Atlanta Cowparade sponsorship chair and CEO of Red Hot Venture Consulting.

At the show’s end in September, the cows will be auctioned off by Sotheby‘s with 75% of the proceeds earmarked for the American Cancer Society; the remaining 25% are to go to Techbridge, a local organization that provides computer hardware, software and consulting services to area charities.  

        “The benefit of cow sponsorship is that it’s interruption marketing,” Mr. McKeon told potential corporate sponsors during a recent presentation at the Goethe Institute in Atlanta. 

While consumers might overlook a print ad, he said, they will pay closer attention to a colorful, life-sized cow statue and the plaque displayed with it, detailing the sponsoring company.

He explained that no company logos could be incorporated directly into the design of the cow, because “it wouldn’t be art.”

Between 50 and 75 members of the Atlanta herd are slated for grazing spots in downtown and midtown.  An effort will be made to place them near the sponsor’s offices, said Mr. McKeon.

The remaining 125-150 cows will be exhibited in herds of 4-12 in other areas of Atlanta, including Decatur, Dunwoody, Marietta and Smyrna.

He added that the exhibit is also likely to bring additional revenue and tourists to Atlanta. Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, for example, which played host to the cows during their stay in that city in 2000, experienced a 28% increase in retail and restaurant sales for the exhibit’s duration.

Cowparade has since been held in cities throughout the world, including Las Vegas, London, New York and Sydney.

In keeping with the expected tourism boost, the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism plans to place a cow sculpture at each interstate highway tourist information center, said Mr. McKeon.

Atlanta companies that have already signed on as sponsors include Coca-Cola Co., Home Depot Corp. and The Weather Channel Inc.

Sponsoring companies or organizations can choose from one of 400 existing designs already entered by local artists or commission a design of their own, said Mr. McKeon.

Incorporating overtly political, religious or sexual messages into the artwork is prohibited, he added.

Corporate sponsorship prices start at $7,500 per cow.  “Cow corral” and “cow herd” sponsorships at the $50,000 and $100,000 levels are also available.

For more information, visit www.cowparadeatlanta.com Contact Mr. McKeon at (404) 575-1950 to learn more about sponsoring a cow.