These days, successful ad campaigns need to be more than just eye-catching — they need to connect with consumers on an emotional level.
Yes, it’s great to be funny, colorful, or edgy — but if the entertainment factor of your ad campaign isn’t backed up with a narrative that really resonates with your target audience, then it will never be as effective as you’d like.
That’s where customer data comes in, as it allows brands to stitch together collected data in compelling, interesting ways to tell a story that consumers are excited to hear. After all, you have the data on hand and (hopefully) already use it to improve your products and services — why not also make use of it for advertising purposes?
So, let’s take a look at three brands that have used customer data recently to create incredible ad campaigns to see what we can learn from their success.
3 Brands That Aced Ad Campaigns Using Customer Data
Using customer insights to create an advertising campaign of any kind is harder than it seems — turning data into an engaging story is a real skill that takes time and experience to fully master.
But, brands also need to be careful about how they use customer data. From regional data protection policies to cultural norms, there are many factors that brand managers should consider when transforming insightful customer data into a successful advertising campaign.
So, let’s take a look at three examples of brands that managed to knock it out of the park.
The on-demand grocery delivery app, Gorillas, was founded in Berlin, Germany in May 2020. Known for delivering groceries within 10 minutes from its own distribution hubs, Gorillas has taken the European market by storm.
As of 2021, it was already in 55 cities — and has continued to expand in 2022. Having launched in London in March 2021, Gorillas has had the last year or so to fastidiously gather data about their UK customers. And just this month, they joined forces with , “Whatever London Wants”.
The campaign uses the last 12 month’s worth of data — that’s data on 8 million products — to create a humorous, fun narrative about London’s ordering habits. Using “a series of double-entendres that highlight the products people typically order through the app” — the campaign provides insights into different boroughs’ preferences and habits.
From revealing London’s love for acid (lemons), pints (of ice cream), and poppers (champagne bottles) to the city’s inexplicable obsession with bananas, the video ad mixes bold visuals and a roguish voice-over with the brand’s customer data — and the end-product, a “playful and provocative campaign”, is a definite winner.
But the campaign doesn’t end there. Gorillas and The Or also used the customer insights to create OOH posters and murals — which, according to The Drum, “aim to enlighten Londoners about their own habits by further revealing interesting insights about how different boroughs behave in relation to one another.”
Source: The Drum
The “Whatever London Wants” campaign also has digital and social media coverage, as well as radio coverage — meaning Gorillas has managed to create a truly well-rounded brand campaign.
The Takeaway: There are plenty of ways you can use customer data to create effective, fun brand campaigns. Consumers are entertained by the fact that others have ordered everything from “late-night tea bags to 32 chocolate bars in a single order.” It’s silly and real — and it makes consumers feel connected with one another and your brand.
So, if there’s a fun, clever (and legal) way for you to use your customer data to improve your ad campaigns in 2022, go for it. It adds a layer of personalization and authenticity that is otherwise hard to achieve.
Kentucky Fried Chicken is a brand most every consumer knows, as it’s the second-largest fast-food chain in the world. Delighting consumers in 150 countries with various fried delicacies since 1952, KFC sells everything from burgers to hot wings buckets to chicken tenders.
The brand’s recent ad campaign, “First Bite”, was launched in April 2022 for UK audiences and was created in collaboration with Mother London. In a recent Adweek article, Leo Sloley, the Marketing Lead at KFC UK&I, explained:
“Through extensive research we found that the anticipation of the first bite of our famous fried chicken is a real peak moment in the KFC eating experience. People really do take their time to search out the crispiest, juiciest spot to take their precious first bite from. This whole campaign speaks directly to that relatable truth of how people savor our food.”
As opposed to the Gorillas ad, which used individual customer data to stitch together a narrative, KFC used extensive customer research to pinpoint the moment consumers most anticipate and look forward to when eating KFC’s offerings: the first bite.
With this knowledge at hand, KFC did everything it could to play up that crucial moment. According to James Ross-Edwards, the Creative Director at Mother London:
“from the casting of director and photographers, to lighting, music, sound design and titles—every choice we made was about dialing-up the anticipation we all feel for that delicious, mouthwatering first bite of chicken.”
The result was a video ad that consumers can easily emotionally connect with — even if they’ve never had KFC chicken, they know the feeling of anticipating the first bite of a delicious meal.
And, like Gorillas, this ad campaign will extend beyond the TV spot — there will be OOH billboards, digital, and press releases to be seen over the next few months.
Source: The Drum
The Takeaway: When it comes to using customer data to inform an ad campaign, there’s no one right way to go about it. While some brands like Gorillas chose to dive deeply into the details, KFC went for a more general approach — though, one still heavily informed by customer data and feedback.
So, if you’re looking for a way to integrate customer data into your next ad campaign, consider KFC’s approach to see if it would fit your brand strategy better.
Though not as recent as the previous two examples, Hinge’s 2016 “Let's Be Real” campaign is still a standout. An OOH campaign that was launched across NYC, the “Let’s Be Real” campaign used real Hinge customer data and experiences to tell stories inspired by their users.
These “long, winding stories” were transformed into eye-catching billboards placed all over the city. According to GWI’s interview with Molly Wilkof, Copywriter, and Zoe Kessler, Art Director, Hinge:
“The first rule of OOH is ‘8 words or less’, but we wanted this campaign to show everyone that Hinge is different. This dating app has serious depth. So we decided to break the rules to prove it. (...) OOH also meant we could write these stories around their specific locations, which was important to us.”
But why did this campaign work so well? Because Hinge leveraged customer data to tell interesting stories that would connect with consumers — aka the brand “used what they found out about their consumers’ likes, dislikes, personality types and quirks to tell tales they knew would strike a chord.”
After all, most people have one or two hilarious, quirky, or horrifying dating experiences in their lifetime — and it feels good to see a campaign like this, which lets people know that they’re not alone in the insane world of modern dating.
The Takeaway: The goal of all ad campaigns is to connect with consumers. You want people not just to notice your OOH billboards or TV ads, but to connect with and remember them (and your brand).
By using real customer data to craft ad creatives, you run a much greater chance of tapping into consumers’ emotional responses — which will lead to a far more successful overall campaign.
Things To Consider: Data Protection & Customer Privacy
Now, before taking a deep dive into your customer data and launching a new campaign, you need to consider two very important factors: data protection regulations and customer privacy requirements.
Campaigns that are informed by customer data are fun, inventive, and often quite successful — but, to go live, they have to meet important legal requirements. So, before you go ham with your customer data, take some time to research the data protection rules in your country. Not every region or country has the same regulations when it comes to how customer data can be used — and the last thing you want to do is get yourself into a legal mess or upset consumers.
Second, make sure you consider the privacy of your customers. For example, while Spotify’s data-driven ad campaigns were generally hailed as both successful and innovative, they did use very specific user data for highly-visible digital billboards, as seen below.
Is it funny? Yes. Does it allow for other consumers to connect emotionally with Spotify? Sure. But, keep in mind that there’s a real person behind this piece of data, and in the age of social media, they might not be incredibly happy to have their (somewhat embarrassing) personal usage habits displayed for all to see.
Of course, all this data is anonymous — and when you sign up for a service like Spotify, you agree to allow the brand to collect your data and use it how they see fit. But just because something is legal doesn’t mean it won’t come back to bite you.
Therefore, it may help to go the route that Hinge chose and get in touch with the customers whose personal data and experiences you’d like to use. That way, they’re on board with the campaign and you don’t risk the negative press of being called out on social media.
Customer data is a goldmine for crafting inventive, entertaining ad creatives. It allows brands to show consumers how genuine and personalized they can be — making it possible to forge deeper, more meaningful connections.
Companies like Gorillas, KFC, and Hinge all provide terrific, diverse examples of how customer data can be used to inform successful ad campaigns. So, where are you getting your customer data?
If you don’t have an answer to that question, then we would recommend checking out Latana’s brand monitoring software. With easy-to-access, reliable consumer insights and flexible audience segmentation, you’ll have all the data you need to concoct your next great ad campaign.