Guest Article By: Michael Swanton
By now just about everyone under 90 is aware that the platforms and social media that they use are tracking as well as recording their data and selling it to devious marketers. That’s why that ad for a Cuban vacation won’t stop following you.
But is it really as creepy as it seems? One of my all time favourite campaigns was Spotify’s “Thanks 2016.. It’s been weird”. It totally breaks the stigma and provides a clear example of what marketing ought to be. The concept is simple yet genius, Spotify’s CMO Seth Farbman put it best when he commented on it saying “Utilizing data from listeners led to the idea of reflecting the culture via listener behaviour”.
So Spotify went global putting up massive billboards and trolling local audiences about their listening behaviour, some classics include: “Dear person who played “sorry” 42 times on Valentine’s day, What did you do?” Or better yet; “Dear person who made a playlist called “one night stand with Jeb Bush like he’s a bond girl in a European casino… We have so many questions.”
Spotify also managed to make witty yet insightful comments on popular culture during some of the of the most tumultuous and polarizing times this generation have seen. Comments like “Dear 3,749 people who streamed “It’s the end of the world as we know it” after the brexit vote, Hang in there.”
It’s almost as if the brand is engaging in a literal one on one conversation with you, and they’re pretty damn funny. They took the spirit of the moment and literally said what everyone was thinking… on a 42 foot billboard. This unique style gives the impression that Spotify knows us but stays within the bounds we are comfortable with, never mentioning any names, only commenting on funny and universally relevant insights. The way marketers typically use big data to follow you around the internet with pop up ads, or attempt to sneak in your social media feed has become transparent and tacky. But Spotify’s up front and in your face comments make way better use of this information, by relating to its users in an individual fashion and commenting on their quirks. It isn’t so creepy if they’re just trying to get to get to know you and crack a few jokes.
Spotify nailed this one, the fact that they “showed their hand” while playfully teasing their audience about their most private moments took serious marketing tact and poise. The copy was written in a tone that reminds you of funny twitter memes, or the way that a close friend might bust your chops. And this is what makes the campaign so genius, and a perfect example of proper marketing. Using listener data to mirror the culture to itself and communicating with the audience the way they communicate with themselves literally makes Spotify seem like they’re “part of the squad”, it makes the stigma around big data seem overblown and clarifies that that’s just how they know us. Not only that but it’s also how they can relate to us.
The campaign humanized Spotify as a brand, and got us to laugh at ourselves. It’s a risk to tease your audience, admit you know them a little too well or make political comments but that’s exactly what you would expect from a friend who knows you. And that’s why this is an exemplary example of marketing, they proved they know us implied that they accept us and made us feel as if they were one of us. What if the brands you use continue to try to become your “friend”, would you mind if Nike starts trolling on your Instagram photos if you rock Adidas?
Michael is a University of Toronto Digital Enterprise Management student, Freelance E-commerce solutions specialist, web designer and digital marketer. When he isn’t plotting on his next business moves or trying to sell you something, he’s at the gym at ungodly hours or making great memories with great friends. Check him out on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat @mswanton1