Are You Stalking Me?

Doing right by data Considering data as an invisible enabler, working hard behind the scenes, or as a basis for a value exchange will be more crucial than ever for brands producing effective creative work.
“I will allow you to personalise my journey, but you have to give me something in exchange.”


Global Chief Creative Officer | McCann Health

The creative communications industry has been wrestling with a question that has come to define our era: are brands taking users' data to offer a beautifully tailored customer experience? Or are they digital stalkers? While many Chief Marketing Officers are still trying to work out what to do about the death of the cookie, 'digital stalking' is looking increasingly outmoded. Brands know that consumers have grown tired of being digitally followed. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in personalisation; they just want it on their terms.

Alistair Macrow, Global Chief Marketing Officer at McDonalds, comments: “The most important thing is to make sure that we give customers fair value for their data... and making sure that they're getting something back that really works for them.” So what does that look like for brands?

The joy of unlikely data sets

While glowing user reviews tend to provoke suspicion, there are some strong examples of brands showing how to lend them some authenticity. In its Creative Data Gold-winning work, Tennessee's Department of Tourism and Leisure turned the sound of children's laughter – recorded on a specially-made wearable – into proof that a tourist attraction was worth a visit. VMLY&R Kansas ‘City’s Laugh Tracks’ showed parents exactly where kids were having the best time across the state’s tourist attractions, delivering $142 return per $1 ad spend. A combination of data and left-field thinking spawned an initiative to make boring speech therapy fun, taking this year’s Creative Data Grand Prix. Warner Music Group partnered Apple Music, via Rothco, to scan 70 million tracks for a series of 'Saylists' that people with speech impediments could sing along to.

"One thing our partners – the attractions – loved about Laugh Tracker so much was that they were able to see that, 'Wow, this thing's not really hitting with the kids – but this thing is.' And they can use that information to make their attraction a better experience for families."


Global Chief Creative Officer | VMLY&R

Saylists | Warner Bros

Rothco, part of Accenture Interactive

Winner of 3 Lions including the Creative Data Grand Prix

What's in it for me?

Today's consumers expect to have to surrender at least some data, but increasingly expect something in return. This year’s Creative Data winners show how to create a fair value exchange. Here's what a fair exchange looks like: Canal+ tracked delay data at airports and served up free content for passengers based on their available waiting time. Two hours to burn? Watch The Incredibles 2 for free on your phone. More than 37% of affected passengers accepted a 'Waiting Wins' offer, and there was a 180% increase in Canal+ subscriptions. It took a Silver Lion in Creative Data.

Waiting Wins | Canal+


Silver Lion winner in Creative Data

Giving data back

Knowing what others know about you can be educational – as Finland's largest retailer S-Group set out to prove when it gave their customers access to the data they had on them. It showed customers their CO2 footprint, shopping trends, habits and more, and let them compare it to everyone else's data across the country. Instead of selling on the data, they gave it back in a Media Gold-winning campaign called ‘Your Data Is Your Data’. 10% of Finlanders now use the app, and the data they uncovered helped 48% of users to change their buying behaviour.

Your Data is Your Data | S-Group Helsinki

Gold Lion winner in Media

Data: The Invisible Enabler

Creative Effectiveness juror Neil Dawson, Chief Global Strategy Officer, Wunderman Thompson, noted that, in campaigns such as Ogilvy Germany’s Silver-winning ‘No Need To Fly; and Gold winner ‘The Time We Have Left’, by Pernod Ricard and Leo Burnett Madrid, data is an ”invisible enabler, working away behind the scenes.”

In this short video, Sophie Daranyi, CEO of Omnicom Commerce Group, differentiates between using data as an engine for campaign optimisation over outcome.

The Time We Have Left | Pernod Ricard

Leo Burnett Madrid

Winner of 3 Lions including a Gold Lion in Creative Effectiveness

As we move forward into a cookie-less world, brands will have to be more creative in how they use data. A good place to start is new and unusual data sets, that could mean mining data from your creative work or looking for personalised data that isn’t too personal. Positioning your brand in locations where you know potential customers will be, rather than following them around, is a much less creepy way to work. In the Outdoor Lions, the entries that created experiences in public spaces had twice the win rate of the rest of the Lion’s submissions. If you don’t want to seem like a stalker, use the data you gather to help shape new products, rather than adding names to pop-up ads. Within the Creative Data Lions, the Data-Driven Consumer Products category has a win rate four times the festival average, even though it only makes up 5% of the total entries to the Lion overall. Remember to bring value. Consumers will be much more generous with their data if they are getting something back, or if they can see it being channelled into something positive. The Tennessee Department for Tourism’s Laugh Tracker used data from children in an anything-but-creepy way; you can be innovative without being invasive.

To discover more insights and content on this theme, watch this selection of films On Demand on Cannes Lions Live.