Spotify Heartland

Objective: Create a campaign that brings Spotify to Middle America.

Middle America tends to get a bad rap. Stereotypes would have us believe that everyone in America's Heartland is driving beat up pickup trucks and listening to country music on repeat. But Middle America is a big area, and the people there are much more diverse than stereotypes would have you believe. So how can Spotify, a music streaming service best known for their expansive library and Discovery Weekly playlist, go beyond stereotypes to reach this area in a genuine way that resonates with their values, ideals, and lifestyle?


The Research

People believe the Heartland is stuck in the past, but it's more about having reverence for a time passed. 

Hometown is where the heart is.

Middle America is a region with a lot of hometown pride. This is exemplified by the fact that, more than any other area, mid-westerners either never leave or return to their hometown after graduating college.

Music gets handed down from generation to generation.

Middle America spends more time with their families than any other region. The same way that children tend to fall in line with their parents political beliefs, kids tend to listen to similar music to their parents, especially in Middle America.

If it's not broke, don't fix it.

Middle America isn't tech illiterate, but they also aren't going to be early adopters. This is because they value practical products that solve problems as opposed to having the latest tech or newest product.

Opportunity: Leverage the past to help us move forward.

The Target

Spotify is already really good at reaching Active Discoverers, but that isn't the way America's Heartland listens to music. For our target, music is not something they actively seek out.

Target Consumer: Passive Discoverers

  • Tech literate, but not an early adapter. 
  • Music is more in the background than at the center of their lives. 
  • Songs are associated with memories - it's less about the lyrics or the artist than the memory that song evokes. 
  • Prefer radio or radio-based streaming services like Pandora. 

Current Consumer: Active Discoverers

  • Tech literate - early adapters to new platforms and technologies.

  • Music is something they actively seek out.
  • People come to them for music recommendations to to make playlists for events.


The Strategy: Spotify let's you build on what came before you. 

The Creative campaign

Where music is going.

For the creative campaign, we wanted to ensure we were addressing the various obstacles that prevent people from switching over to Spotify. Each tactic addresses one of 5 obstacles. 

  1. People aren't getting on Spotify because they don't see a clear benefit
  2. New platforms feel overwhelming.
  3. Tech doesn't feel personal.
  4. Spotify is expensive.
  5. Heartlanders don't know about Spotify.

Obstacle 1: People aren't getting on Spotify because the don't see a clear benefit. 

In order to demonstrate a clear product benefit that's in line with Heartlanders' practical ideals, we created traditional ads that concisely showed clear product benefits and placed them where our target is already listening to music: driving and on their way to work. 

Obstacle 2: New Platforms feel overwhelming

Learning new platforms isn't fun, and learning Spotify's platform is especially complicated because of all of the unique benefits and features that Spotify offers its consumers. Even when doing this project, we each learned new Spotify features despite all of us having used the platform for years. In order to ensure new users get the most out of their Spotify account, we set up an onboarding process that places clickable circles next to each feature. When clicked, the circles will expand and give the user information on how that particular part of Spotify is best used. After they've read through, the information will disappear back into circles to allow the user to continue using the site. 


Obstacle 3: Tech Doesn't Feel Personal

Taking a cue from traditional and XM radio, we utilized local personalities to create Hometown Hero playlists and commentary as a way of connecting to our audience on a more personal level. 

What separates Spotify from traditional radio is that you can pick and choose what songs you want. Let's say you want to listen to Mary J Blige. Here's what Kelli has to say:

Or maybe you don't like Mary J Blige, so you skip to Biggie. Here's what it would sound like:     

Obstacle 4: Spotify Is Expensive

Our research indicated that $10 a month for music felt prohibitively expensive for our target, but that they were much more likely to spend this amount on a gift for someone else. This prompted us to create a gift package which allows you to send a custom playlist and Spotify Gift Card in packaging that's reminiscent of the days of mixed CDs. 


Obstacle 5: Heartlanders don't know about spotify

All of the above is pointless if people don't know about Spotify at all. So to make sure that Middle America knows that Spotify exists, we targeted the artists that Middle America already knows...



...and created vinyl CDs of songs from artists that both inspired and were inspired by them. This helps to not only give these artists a blast from the past from the people that they admire, but also helps show them just how influential each of them are. 


Class: Brand Experiences, Live Client

Teammates: Colin McCool (Creative Brand Management), Evan Chiplock (Copywriting), Ted Gregson (Art Direction), Jen Chao (Experience Design), Ashley Glover (Experience Design)