Dubai-based ad agency Memac Ogilvy and KFC Arabia found a way to circumvent Spotify Premium’s ad-free platform: they took over the profiles of three artists from the region. The campaign, featured on Design Taxi, worked with artists Flipperachi, Moh Flow, and Shébani to replace their profile headers, album covers, and profile avatars with photos of KFC’s new burger. The press video boasts that it was “the first campaign ever on Spotify Premium” and goes on to say, “By hacking a platform where ads are not allowed, we gave the Kentucky burger the campaign that it truly deserved.”
The campaign, while a gross misuse of the platform, did have some funny ideas, like creating playlists with song titles that spelled out “Discover, New, Kentucky, Burger, Come and Visit, KFC, Get It, Before It’s Too Late.” Artist bios were altered to read like menu ingredients, and upcoming events directed users to visit the nearest KFC locations, though it just looked like the artist had multiple concert dates at one very lucky KFC.
None of the artist profiles show the ads anymore, but Memac Ogilvy account director Ishana Tolani tweeted a video of what the campaign looked like when it was live:
Haha now that’s clever advertising! @Spotify claims no ads on Spotify Premium, but looks like @kfcarabia still managed to make their way in! @SpotifyArabia least it’s uninterrupted and finger lickin’ good at the same time! #advertisingthatworks #spotify #kfc pic.twitter.com/JcV6YRgOdp— Ishana Tolani (@Ish_tolani) January 30, 2020
KFC Arabia’s campaign is just the latest example of brands and ad agencies “hacking” platforms and exploiting ad-free spaces to sneak in advertising. Last May, North Face Brazil and Leo Burnett Tailor Made gamed Google Image Search results by replacing Wikipedia photos of popular destinations with photos featuring their products. That stunt ended in a stern rebuking from the Wikimedia Foundation and an apology from North Face corporate. But North Face Brazil CEO Fabricio Luzzi defended the campaign with an “all press is good press” philosophy, arguing that it achieved the brand’s goals.
That may be so, but I’m going to be really disappointed if my nearest KFC doesn’t have any upcoming concerts.