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Everyone’s got a guilty pleasure – whether it's a crush on Justin Bieber or a penchant for country music. And last year, Spotify used its swathes of data to call out users on theirs, hitting big data's sweet spot by personalising communications, without directly invading anyone's privacy. This year, Spotify extends the same strategy to the weirdest (and most wonderful) playlist names on its platform.

Spotify’s 100 million-plus monthly active users and 40 million paying subscribers generate a wealth of valuable data. The service can see how many times someone has played a particular song, as well as what songs users have put together when creating playlists. This campaign – which is an extension of the brand’s largest investment into OOH advertising to date – uses this information to expose some of the most curious and giggle-inducing stories about people’s listening habits.

Turning big data into big laughs
Spotify (2017) ©

While billboards across the US will feature lines like '"I don't know how to make a playlist" is a playlist someone made, somehow' and 'Someone made a playlist called "sorry I lost your cat" when they could have been making flyers', artists D.R.A.M, DNCE and Alessia Cara were enlisted  to enact some of the more hilarious titles in video form. “There’s been some debate about whether big data is muting creativity in marketing, but we've turned that on its head,” says Seth Farban, CMO of Spotify “For us, data inspires and gives an insight into the emotion that people are expressing.”

Ultimately, Spotify’s campaign puts users at the heart of its message. “This campaign is built on the foundations of what makes Spotify so unique – our amazing community of music fans, and the passion they have for discovering and sharing music,” says Karen Staughton, Spotify’s head of consumer marketing in the UK. “We’re celebrating those users by showcasing the breadth of playlists that soundtrack so many moments in their lives – from the weird to the wonderful.” And it’s a brave way to use data; 89% of Americans say that they avoid companies who they feel don’t respect their privacy. But in this context, Spotify has not only maintained users’ anonymity, it’s also recognised and rewarded their individuality – even if it is just via their warped sensibilities when it comes to naming playlists.

Lore Oxford is Canvas8's deputy editor. She previously ran her own science and technology publication and was a columnist for Dazed and Confused. When she’s not busy analysing human behaviour, she can be found defending anything from selfie culture to the Kardashians from contemporary culture snobs.


20 Feb 17
2 min read

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