ASK: FInd a way to help Spotify expand its user base within the heartland


The Quick Pitch

Heartlanders are often content with more traditional ways of listening (i.e. analogue radio) and don't yet see an occasion for which to adopt Spotify. 

Heartlanders are hungry for a feeling of small town connection that's rapidly slipping away in the digital age. They yearn for the days when there were less channels and everyone consumed the same media, because that made it easier to bond over within your immediate, physical community. 

Whereas urbanites often listen with individual taste and discovery in mind,  Middle Americans consume media as a part of a larger ritual around social connection.

Help users deepen their social connections through music. 


While Spotify has enjoyed success in urban centers across the globe, they recognize that America’s inland states and cities have not been so quick to adopt. Spotify recognizes that “Middle America" is driven by values, needs, and interests that differ from their coastal, urban counterparts.

We were asked to define Spotify’s role in the lives of heartlanders and create a campaign to introduce them to the brand in a way that’s relevant to their lifestyles.


How does the Heartlander listen? 

While our team was provided with demographics and psychographics for the target population, through our research we found an interesting dichotomy within use occasions for this group which was previously undiscovered. 

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I like to listen to country music on my way home because it helps me wind down from the long work day because the music is super relatable and catchy, you just sing along to it.
— Valerie G.


This typically looks like listening in the car on the way to work or as a way to unwind after a long day. It's all about the individual's taste and mood. This is where Spotify usually thrives for urbanites who enjoy playlists catered to their specific preferences during their downtime. Heartlanders however, typically turn on the radio in these instances to hear the classics they know and love. 

What I envision from the perfect moment for listening to country music is a crisp, cool, summer night. There is BBQ going next to a bonfire. There are family and friends. Everyone is happy and doing just fine.
— Louis V.


In this case, this is where we saw more opportunity for Spotify. We found Heartlanders are more community-focused and they believe that the cookouts, tailgates, and family gatherings they love are only made better with music. While traditional radio may meet the basic needs in these situations, creating the opportunity to choose certain songs or playlist based on the specific occasion, mood, or members of the group creates an opportunity for deeper group interaction. 


Why is group listening important for Heartlanders?

Heartlanders are more likely to come from collectivist cultures. They identify strongly with the groups they belong to whether it be their family, their faith groups, their alumni base, or their fellow professionals.

As our country becomes more globalized and interconnected, Heartlanders feel their way of life slipping away. As a result, they are hungry for the feeling of small-town social connection that was once ubiquitous.

One way we can recreate that feeling of social closeness is through sharing music and the memories, stories, and bonding opportunities that come along with it.

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Creative Approach

The key to the Heartland is familiarity. We can introduce Spotify to more traditional listeners by using language, visuals, and channels which are already familiar to them.

Creative Concept

Connection through re-discovery. We want to create opportunities for our users to have that “oh my god I haven’t heard that in forever” moment with their friends which will open the door for storytelling and social bonding.


"You know it" 

You know every word to your favorite song.

You know where you were in life when you first heard it, or played it over and over again until you couldn’t stand it.

You know how good it feels when one of those songs plays, and when you share that feeling with those around you.

You know that you belong when you hear it.


Out of Home


In Stadium

Everyone knows heartlanders love football. In fact, of the 20 biggest football stadiums, 15 are in the heartland. But its not just about the teams, stadiums bring family, friends, and strangers together. It's also one of the few events where music is integral throughout. Whether its at the pre-game tailgate, during timeouts and half time, or during the post-game celebrations - sporting events are fueled by well-loved music. 

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No matter who you are, everyone knows there's no better place for social listening than your local watering hole. It's the perfect place for playing the classics we all love and sharing the stories of our memories around them. 

We created an in-bar Spotify jukebox to help familiarize Heartlanders with the Spotify UX and features as well as to show them how many of their favorites are available on the platform. By enabling the jukebox to interact with the application on your phone, you can drive bar-goers to download and begin trail within the app. 

We also took the same structure of the OOH messaging into the bar via koozies and coasters that would be available at Spotify enabled bars. 

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Research shows that Heartlanders are seven times more likely to be using Facebook than Twitter and that on average they're sharing over one million links per minute. We saw this as a great opportunity for Spotify to further invest in integration into Facebook. We imagined this as a plug-in where Heartlanders can share digital "mixtapes" with their friends on special days like birthdays or anniversaries.  

This plug-in would allow free users to share pre-set mixtapes and premium users to create custom mixtapes. This would not only spread awareness of the platform but also drive premium membership as well. 


What I enjoyed most about this was... 

getting to explore a target outside of the typical "urban millennials".