An installation of Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s “Rubber Duck Project” was on display in Seoul for one month in the fall of 2014 with financial backing from Lotte Group, a large Korean conglomerate. While the installation drew much positive attention, many critics voiced concerns over Lotte using the delightful duck as a way to covertly redirect negative media attention concerning the ongoing construction of the Lotte World Tower and mall towards a more lighthearted subject. Two conflicting themes of escapism and skepticism are identified, explored and discussed through a rhetorical and ideological analysis of this public art installation. Although the Lotte Corporation did not publicly state that the art installation was a means to diffuse or avoid the ongoing communication crisis associated with their tower and mall construction projects, many individuals assumed that to be the case. In addition to communication scholars, this paper could be of interest to business communicators and others interested in the use of public art to diffuse or divert crisis, as well as those interested in the risks involved in such an approach.
Keywords: Ideological analysis, public art, rhetoric, crisis communication