Data’s had to put up with a lot from marketing folks in the past few decades. For even longer than the time Sir Martin Sorrell ruled the WPP roost, it has been treated both as creativity’s lesser cousin (twice removed from that side of the family – you know, where they’re all basically feral) to being hailed as the second coming of the marketing age, complete with crown, sceptre and eulogising disciples.


The simple reality is that, for all businesses, there’s now more customer (or potential customer) data out there than ever before. Which means, for the advertising cohort, there’s more opportunity to create genuinely relevant ads for audiences. Cut to a high-five montage in marketing boardrooms across the land.

But to paraphrase Spiderman’s dying uncle, with great access to customer data, comes great responsibility not to balls it up. Because undoubtedly, there is a sweet spot between what you know about people and what you might want to tell them. And there’s also the way you tell them, the fancy wrapping that delivers the message – more commonly known as ‘the creative’.

Which is what I’m getting to.

There’s such potential in genuinely using data creatively, because you know there’s truth right at the core of the work. So without further ado, here are four brands that have given it a pretty good go. I’ve also had a guess at the brief they were working to, to see how close they got to nailing it…

 

  1. Spotify

No doubt you saw this one all over the place last year.

What was the brief?

We know what millions of people listen to. Let’s broadcast some of the more interesting choices.

This is big data being used in a big way and I think it rocks. They obviously mined the hell out of their database to throw up these little quirks. But then they also spent time and money on getting the creative bit right. Because this could have been a far more basic email campaign.

Not only did they embrace outdoor media really effectively, they also poke fun at their customers – but the anonymity takes any sting out of it. Yep, nicely done Spotify.

 

 

  1. Easyjet

This one’s been around for a while but it shows where good intent but lacklustre execution gets you.

What was the brief?

We’ve flown people around Europe for 20 years. What a journey, eh? Let’s show them what it’s looked like.

 

So it’s…fine. It’s certainly not bad. I’m definitely getting the fact that Easyjet have known Alex for ages and know things that she might not have. Like her very first trip was Luton to Faro, or that she’s flown 12 times to eight different countries. But it does lack a bit of excitement. It’s a bit plodding with how it delivers the data and leaves me thinking that they could have pushed it much further.

 

  1. Melanoma Patients Australia

This won a bunch of awards over 2015/16, including Cannes and D&AD.

What was the brief?

Remind 20somethings that sunbathing isn’t all bronze-based lols (and also raise the profile of a lesser known charity).

There’s a short period of time, whilst you’re watching this, that you think ‘invasive bastards’. And then, almost as quickly, you realise that’s the point. And that’s why it works. Whereas the other two examples try and win their audiences over, this tries to put them off. And doing that in a meaningful way where the message sticks, is pretty tricky. Telling people you don’t know you know they’re on the beach? A bit creepy. But it works, really well. Hats off.

 

  1. Svedka Vodka

This followed Americans round the internet last Halloween.

What was the brief?

Do an online Halloween stunt.

Hmm… I see you Svedka Vodka. I see the cleverness in the brief and I see the boldness in the executions. And whilst I admire that, I don’t really like the ad. Apparently Svedka Vodka do a Halloween stunt every year in the States, so maybe that context would help, but I’m struggling to find the connection between product and campaign. It just feels a bit disconnected. And some of the creative feels too forced, it could maybe have benefited from a little more craft. But I do like the fact they’re using their audience’s cookie data against them, that’s pretty novel and shows a nice contrarian way of thinking.

So there you have it. Four very different brands using their customer’s data very differently. Get in touch if you think I’m talking baloney or if you have other examples to share.

 

-Hugo Bennett, Senior Copywriter