Personalized advertising is something that’s been promised/threatened by science fiction for awhile. Notably in movies like Minority Report and quite humorously in video games like Mass Effect 2. Even as we speak, data brokers are busy trading information about you in order to deliver more effective marketing – with decidedly mixed results, if the ads along the side of my Facebook feed are anything to judge by.
Still, sometimes advertising with a personal touch can be rather charming. Earlier this week, I tweeted out an article to my followers about the history of corned beef and cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s day. About a week later, I received this response to that ad from the twitter feed of fast food chain Arby’s:
— Arby’s (@Arbys) March 17, 2014
I wasn’t alone, either. The company sent out several similar personalized tweets and YouTube videos to people who were talking about different aspects of St. Patrick’s day. So out of curiosity, I reached out to them to understand why they were doing this kind of campaign.
“Our delicious corned-beef Reuben is a natural fit and tie-in to the fun and revelry found in St. Patrick’s Day traditions,” a spokesperson for the company told me. “We purposefully dialed-it up this year by engaging with our social friends using a custom hashtag, #FeedMeImIrish, supported by interesting content, including customized Irish songs based on trending social conversation and a surprise visit to an annual Irish festival in Shamrock, TX.”
The custom ditties were composed by Darien Shulman, John “Scrapper” Sneider and Adam Elk. They were produced by Storefront Music, which has produced music for a number of large ad campaigns.
I’m not a fan of data mining to generate algorithmic personalized ads. But this ad was, essentially, an organic response to a tweet, and I found that to be a rather clever, non-intrusive, non-privacy-violating way to send out a message.
Of course, if everyone starts doing ads this way it might get annoying. But as a one-time thing, I admit I liked it.
If you’re interested, here’s that custom song about corned beef I got, courtesy of Arby’s: