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Thanks, Spotify. It's been entertaining.

Is it just us, or is there something hypnotic about a really smart marketing campaign?

Now we’re not talking S-M-A-R-T as in specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound - although we’re sure they were! We mean incredibly clever.

Where you can see the insight, trends and the data line up to create something magical!

Now there’s one brand that truly harnesses the power of data and insights in a non-creepy way; Spotify.

Over the past few years, Spotify’s end-of-year campaigns have become somewhat of a social and marketing talking point.

In today’s blog, we take a look at four stellar Spotify campaigns that have leveraged data and insights and jumped on trends to ignite talkability.

From starting as an elementary data share rewarding existing Spotify listeners (showing them their listening data as a year in review), it is now a full-on summer tradition, with bragging rights for many and some pretty memorable billboards.

“The genesis of this actually goes back to 2013, when a few smart folk at Spotify thought, ‘Hey we have this data, would anyone be interested?’”, says Alex Bodman, vice president and global executive creative director at Spotify.


Thanks, 2016. It’s Been Weird

In a big Out Of Home (OOH) push, Spotify hand-picked some hilarious data, including playlist names, listener counts and specific dates, to deliver their 2016 campaign “Thanks, 2016. It’s Been Weird”

The idea for the campaign originated with 2015’s data-driven “Year in Music” campaign, which collated data from listeners who shared some fascinating insights. Around this time, there was debate about whether data was muting creativity in marketing. But this campaign flipped that notion on its head and showed that data could be used in so many ways.

The brand used clever copy, tight content, and a visual medium to create memorable cut-through.

I recall seeing the ad “Dear person who played “Sorry” 42 times on Valentine's Day, what did you do” on a bus stop and it struck me at the time.

Shit, that’s clever.

I shared it, not on my socials but with mates who would also appreciate it. I am an example of the effect of these ads.


2018 Goals

In 2017 the campaign evolved. They rolled with the same data-led concept and built on solid brand recognition from the previous year. Spotify used similar bright and recognisable branding and adding in some familiar faces that help to catch eyes in an OOH context.

This year, they built on the momentum of the campaign to actually push the product (rather than top of funnel brand love) with ads that stuck to the same creative - making it super recognisable for consumers.


Spotify Wrapped

Building on the success of previous years, the next evolution of tapping into consumer data for amusing insights was to jump on another 2018 trend - personalisation.

From the first song users streamed at 12:01 a.m. on January 1 to the year's hottest Spotify Single and everything in between, people’s years are defined by what you listened to. Whether you celebrated your country’s football win with the sounds of “We Are the Champions,” or paid musical tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin, your highs and lows are neatly recorded. So as you reflect on the past year, Spotify’s Wrapped looked back —and listened—with you.

This year, they gave some Premium users a chance to take part in the brand’s global campaign by offering them the chance to see their share cards up in lights. If a “Wrapped share card” was worthy, you could submit it for consideration to be featured on billboards in key iconic locations around the world, including NYC’s Times Square, London’s Piccadilly Circus, and more.


By 2020 Spotify Wrapped evolved into a fully fledged UGC and Hashtag Campaign that flooded social media platforms with recaps of an individual's top songs, artists, genres, minutes spent listening, and more.

As part of this campaign Spotify invites users to share their most-listened-to artists and tracks - introducing a cascading Flywheel effect - thanks to FOMO - by enticing new users to download and use their app for longer.

Brand loyalists became the ultimate influencers as they shared their data and many competed in cool, compared notes and just generally joined the conversation.

The results? Over 60,000,000 shares from 90,000,000 users - and that’s just counting what Spotify can measure.

From major artist shares to people just like you are me.

Whether 4 million followers or just my mum, we all became influencers, impacting followers thanks to data, playful insights, and some sharable personalised assets. This campaign flew.

So there you have it, some incredibly smart marketing and the evolution of how the brand used data and insights while leveraging cultural trends to influencer talkability. If you don’t have data at your fingertips, that’s ok. You can easily see trends all around you. And if not, check out resources like TrendHunter, which help narrow things down for you.

Honourable Mention

Their tap into meme culture with their Spotify Everywhere campaign. Again, memorable and bold branding, smart copy, engaging with a trend.

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