Data-Driven OOH Campaign from Spotify Thanks 2016 for a ‘Weird’ Time



That crazy playlist you curated to finally get over your ex? Spotify might have put that on a billboard as part of a global campaign that honors the biggest cultural and music moments of 2016.


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Spotify, the most popular music streaming service globally, is bidding adieu to 2016 with a global out-of-home campaign that marks the company’s largest ad campaign ever.

Last year, Spotify used data to inform a billboard campaign that showcased the favorite music tracks by neighborhood. Some somewhat shocking macro-trends emerged, such as Justin Bieber finding favor among Williamsburg hipsters. This year’s take on the effort is deliberately micro-focused, with ads showcasing specific user data, anonymized of course.

The kooky copy – splashed across 14 markets worldwide – is based on the insight that people’s true idiosyncrasies can be revealed by taking a deep dive into their musical listening habits. One ad calls out a user for listening to Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” more than 40 times on Valentine’s Day. (“What did you do?”, the billboard coyly asks.) Another billboard questions the true meaning behind a user playlist entitled, “One Night Stand with Jeb Bush Like He’s a Bond Girl in a European Casino.”


Source: Spotify via Business Insider

Cultural references, like those made to prominent politicians and events, are core to the campaign strategy. Spotify’s approach is to highlight human emotion while tying those individual experiences to the landmark moments that made 2016, well, “weird.”

From the struggle that was getting Hamilton tickets to the sense of shock felt across Europe following the Brexit vote, Spotify’s ads relive it all through the musical behaviors of real people around the world.

Spotify’s homage to 2016 is compelling for a few reasons:

  • For the second year in a row, the company used data to fuel a unique creative insight that is universally relatable across markets. If playlists are a soundtrack to our daily lives, then dissecting the specifics of our music listening habits can say a lot about the past 12 months.
  • The OOH artwork is produced in a style that’s native to the urban environments in which the ads are placed. Simple design and bright, bold colors invite passersby to focus on the hilarious copy, which speaks for itself.
  • The relatability of the creative concept – who hasn’t curated an oddly-named playlist? – is doing its part to spur social buzz around the effort. One share of the ads on Imgur has already racked up more than 400K views and 16K up-votes.

As the streaming music war heats up, the campaign aims to help Spotify differentiate itself as the culturally relevant option that prioritizes user experience and accessibility above all else. A 2014 study ranked Spotify fifth in brand penetration across competing services. The Swedish-based company boasts 100 million users worldwide, 30 percent of which are paid subscribers, and is the most popular streaming music service in the world.

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