It's Getting Personal

The fine line between being relevant and invasive

Kara Melchers

Managing Editor, BITE Creativebrief


On the one hand we want our favourite brands to listen. On the other we don’t want to feel like a character from Orwell’s 1984, where “nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull” and these days even that’s up for grabs.

In May 2015, The Guardian claimed “Personalised marketing at scale” is fast becoming the newest trend in digital comms. This is the ability to reach a large number of customers with tailored messaging. Coca Cola has positioned its latest marketing strategy around the three Ps - personalised, predictive and partnerships.

At last year’s Super Bowl they segmented the US Facebook population by airing the same video but a diff erent thumbnail and caption depending on an individual’s interests and demographic.

Clever brands are working with media owners to create personalised content for viewers. 4oD supported the launch of Burberry’s customisable fragrance, My Burberry. The ads were dynamically served to signed-in users, with an ending featuring the viewer’s own initials visualised onto the bottle.

Aggregating external factors along with customer data can give an even greater personal experience. Spotify’s new Now page recommends playlists to fit with the time of day and what a list ener is doing, creating an opportunity for more tailored marketing. O2 recently acquired Weve, the messaging, location and data matching service that uses iBeacons to target customers who have accessed Wi-Fi at O2 venues.

Therein lies the difference. By actively opting in I understand advertising is part of the model.

However, when an ad is ser ved once I’ve left a page it still feels like Big Brother is watching me.

Read on for examples…

Virgin Atlantic Gets Personal, Not Personalised

A customer communication programme with flare. Virgin Atlantic’s Ready to Fly initiative aims to make every day, from the moment they book, to the moment they fly, as exciting as the trip itself.

Through a series of bespoke email alerts, customers are drawn closer to their destination until the moment they depart.

Drawing from profile data and dynamic content, only information that is relevant to their up and coming trip is included.

The emails drive customers to a personal landing page where they can discover more about their destination, research excursions and complete tasks, such as checking in online.

The hierarchy of messaging is sensitive to the departure date, which provides the perfect setting to subtly up-sell product and partner offers at a time when they are most meaningful.

The progamme currently runs for all customers flying between London and New York , with plans to run it out to the whole world of Virgin Atlantic destinations .


Agency: Naked Communications, London

increase in engagement opportunities
increase in action/interaction

Absolut And Punchdrunk’s Immersive Experience

Silverpoint is a collaboration with immersive theatre company Punchdrunk that gives a unique personal experience to Absolut customers. At the heart of the story is a mystery - the disappearance of Chloe. Players can only unlock her story by playing the game, which features some of Andy Warhol’s rarely seen blotted-line`Silverpoint’ drawings, which feature on the latest Absolut bottle. The game lasts two weeks and uses a combination of iBeacon and personalization technologies to enhance the consumer experience along the way.

Agency: Somethin’ Else

Harris And Hoole Know Their Customers By Name

Harris and Hoole, the coffee chain 49% owned by Tesco, has created a mobile app to revolutionise and enhance the in-store experience. Walk up to the counter and the barista will have your profile on their till, know your name, recognise your picture, have your usual order ready within minutes and enable you to pay for your drink, all without reaching for your wallet.

Agency: Ribot

Barclays’ Hyper-Personalised Lending Videos

In a world where customers receive generic, one-size-fits all loan offers, Barclays set about to personalise this process. As part of the campaign, each customer was sent a unique video tailored to them - they were addressed by name, told the amount they could borrow, their interest rate and their term length – over 40,000  variables in total with over 180,000 videos developed.

Agency: Rapp