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Most of the time, Weird is good

Most of the time, Weird is good

One way or another, everyone has heard about Database Marketing (DBM). Maybe not the actual ‘scientific’ term but its meaning or core message. Database Marketing isn’t just a customer record, but a tool to approach and strengthen ties with consumers, among many other functions. Based on the principle that “not all customers are the same”, DBM facilitates a bridge between all the information collected and the user-centred content/products based on the client profile. It’s a very efficient tool that provides the information needed to segment a market and eventually discover some niches.

Some experts believe that this is essential to any bold and well sustained campaign, etc.; an argument which holds as you are building something based on all the data/demands of the market.

Like most things in life, there is more than one perspective and on the other side of DBM Campaigns are the inherited restrictions. Information liberates in the same way that it confines. Creating a campaign (service/product) that only focuses on something that is needed, might confine the creativity and possibility to build something better. It might be a very dramatic observation but designers can relate to it. Long live Descartes’ tabula rasa.

At the end of 2016 the world unknowingly assisted in one of the best campaigns of the year, in my humble opinion. This spectacular recipe included internal data, customization and humour. Spotify, one of the more prominent music streaming services, ended the year with an original campaign where it exposed the strangest musical habits of listeners on billboards across 14 countries with a headline: “Thanks, 2016. It’s been weird.”

This rather expansive campaign was developed by Spotify’s internal creative team in New York, supported by other teams around the world. Based on the idea of collecting internal data to discover curiosities and outputting them with an Out Of Home (OOH) ad campaign, the billboards portrayed hilarious and peculiar actions of a variety Spotify’s users.

Seth Farbman, Spotify CMO, told Creativity ( how the campaign’s idea originated from the previous end-of-year campaign, “Year in music”. Where it visualised very peculiar behaviours in different areas on the globe. “That led to the idea of reflecting culture via listener behaviour.”

Mr Farbman, said: “The holidays are always a time for connection, reflection and gratitude, but 2016 has been a particularly turbulent year for many of us. So we wanted to look back on 2016 through the eyes (and ears) of the millions of music fans who use Spotify every day, touching on both the global events that affected us all, as well as the personal moments which struck a chord.”

The idea behind only using billboards to advertise was to be as regional as possible. According to Spotify CMO: “It has the ability to really drive clever copy home that other media can’t always do as well.”

In UK there were some billboards saying: “Dear 3,749 people who streamed ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it’ the day of the Brexit vote, hang in there.”

One ad in New York City says: “Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton Soundtrack 5,376 times this year. Can you get us tickets?”

Other taglines included:

  • To the person who listened to “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” 52 times on 9th February. Everyone celebrates Pancake Day differently.
  • To the 21,043 people who played “Dancing On My Own” the day that Fabric closed. You weren’t.
  • To the 1,235 guys who loved the “Girls’ Night’ playlist this year. We love you.
  • Dear person in Glasgow who listened to the “Forever Alone” playlist for 4 hours on Valentine’s Day. You OK?
  • Dear person who made a playlist called: ‘One night stand with Jeb Bush like He’s a Bond Girls in a European Casino.’ We have so many questions.

Seth Farbman commented on the issue of using all the information collected to build strategies. “There has been some debate about whether big data is muting creativity in marketing, but we have turned that on its head,” he added. “For us, data inspires and gives an insight into the emotion that people are expressing.”

I believe that the key to a perfect Marketing campaign is all about balance. Essentially one might gather all the data required to sustain the concept and pay attention to using it in a positive way without letting that stop you from being bold.