Spotify 2018 Goals Ad Review

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For their 2017 end of year run, music streaming giant Spotify have once more delved into their bottomless Santa sack of entertaining user data titbits to bring us their “2018 goals” campaign.

Riffing on the slightly square notion of New Year’s Resolutions, Spotify have decided to bring joy to our lives by encouraging us to embrace the whacky side of our music obsessions.

The wide-ranging series of out-of-home (OOH) ads are about tapping into the collective mood and seeing the funny side of our reactions to an increasingly unpredictable world, according to Spotify CMO, Seth Farbman.

Politics is a consistent theme throughout the ads. Two of Trump’s fallen aides feature in the US creatives and Spotify UK mocked Theresa May’s “fields of wheat” moment. This mild piss-taking is fitting at the end of a tense year in politics. Overt political point-scoring is avoided; there are no direct references to Trump or Brexit, presumably to avoid alienating politically divergent audiences (or getting Twitter-blasted by Donald Trump).

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spotify advertBut it’s not all satirical. We are warned to avoid “medical professionals” who added songs like “Stairway to Heaven” to playlists and reject invites from dinner party hosts who listened to tracks that might just put your off your dinner.

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Keen ad-watchers (and readers of this blog) will note the similarities with Spotify’s 2016 campaign, which reached out to anonymous users who binge-listened to Justin Bieber on Valentines Day… and scoped for tickets to Broadway smash, Hamilton.

This year’s campaign puts a twist on last year’s campaign. Whilst “It’s Been Weird” was about looking back over a year of unpredictable (Trump, Brexit) and tragic (natural disasters, Bowie) events, “2018 goals” is about looking forward to a new year with new possibilities, all served with lashings of irreverence.

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The tone of voice is described by CMO Farbman as, “inclusive and reflective and a little cheeky”.

“2018 Goals” also goes beyond OOH. Spotify users are being offered a personalised dashboard reflecting their listening habits, including the artists they helped promote, and illustrating how their moods changed over time.

By highlighting the shared experience of music listeners and combining that with individualised insights, this campaign reflects the fragmentation and the unification of our modern, digital world. Outdoor creatives reflect how the spheres of online and offline have a symbiotic relationship with each other.

The “2018 Goals” campaign has evolved out of Spotify’s year-long experiment with user data. They have paid attention to unusual or remarkable listening habits, painting a picture of individual users and celebrating their humanity, quirks and all.

Their slogans emerge out of a combination of objective data and imaginative speculation. For example, the observation that a user had created a playlist called “Root Canal Songs” lead them to create the line, “Someone made a Root Canal Songs playlist, probably because they never had a Flossing Songs Playlist.”

Notice how a “cold”, anonymous piece of data has been transformed into a humorous piece of content, similar in form to social media posts. It’s Spotify’s understanding of how audiences express themselves, and the common modes of communication, combined with deep data insights, that make their 2018 Goals campaign so effective. Now, we’re off to make a playlist. See you in the gym.

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