Customer Personalisation and Data: Are You Being Creepy, or Cool? [VIDEO]


“Creepy versus Cool: Striking The Right Balance In Customer Centricity And Personalisation” panel at the inaugural Sydney CDO Summit on 1 March 2016, presented by Accenture Digital

Last year two million Australians received a message from melanoma.

The deadly skin cancer “liked” and commented on beach or poolside pictures posted by people on social media.

It also provided information on identifying and preventing melanoma.

Melanoma, in this case, was actually an algorithm developed by agency GPY&R. The goal was to raise awareness of melanoma in 15 to 30-year-olds, who are the most affected. 1500 Australians die every year from the cancer.

The algorithm tracked hashtags like #beach, #tan, or #pool, and filtered content geographically to target Australians.

Incredibly (or creepily?), it was able to use context from peoples’ posts to leave almost human-like messages like “the weather looks perfect for me! #killerweather.”

“It’s probably the creepiest thing we’ve ever done, but it’s also systematically the most effective thing we’ve ever done,” said Rob Hudson, previously Chief Digital Officer at GPY&R; currently managing director at Clemenger BBDO.

“And those things tend to go hand in hand.”


The campaign showcased the incredible power data can give organizations, in this case earning AUD$3 million in media exposure for an investment of AUD$430. And it also shows that using data for personalisation doesn’t have to be bad or unethical, even if it can be a tad creepy.

To better understand this important topic, we held a panel called “Creepy versus Cool: Striking The Right Balance In Customer Centricity And Personalisation” at the inaugural Sydney CDO Summit on 1 March 2016 hosted at the UTS Business School and presented by Accenture Digital.

Panelists included, from left to right in the photo and video below:

  • Rob Hudson: previously Chief Digital Officer at GPY&R; currently Managing Director at Clemenger BBDO.
  • Laura Campbell: previously CIO at Allianz Global Assistance Australia; currently Director at Deloitte Digital.
  • Kevin Wordon: previously Head of Digital at Flight Centre Travel Group; currently Chief Digital Officer at Retail Food Group.
  • Ciarán Norris: Director, Marketing & Business Insights Consultation at American Express.
  • Michael Buckley (moderator): Managing Director, Accenture Interactive, Australia/NZ at Accenture.

“Creepy versus Cool” panel hosted at the UTS Business School, and presented by Accenture Digital.

Creepy: Using Data with No Internal Safeguards or Review

“Just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should do it,” said Laura Campbell: previously CIO at Allianz Global Assistance Australia; currently Director at Deloitte Digital.

“Who is the one who has the ethical gauntlet? If it gets past the marketer, does it stop at the CEO?”


Ciarán Norris

If ethical considerations are too abstract, Ciarán Norris, Director, Marketing & Business Insights Consultation at American Express, advised organizations to focus on long-term brand image.

“Ethics is a very gray area for one person, let alone for a corporation made up of thousands of people,” Norris said. “There has to be some part of the organization that owns the customer, and values the customer beyond the short term dollar value.”

“What would the customer think if they read ‘brand X is doing Y’ in the paper?”

Cool: Offering Value in Exchange for Data

“We’re protecting the customer and we have an obligation to absolutely, but really, it’s done. Privacy is dead,” Campbell proclaimed.


Laura Campbell

“What was creepy for a 20-year-old ten years ago is completely different now because they’re so willing to share everything.”

Hudson agreed that if a value exchange occurs, most users no longer care about data privacy.

“Most people are actually perfectly happy to hand over data, but you have to explain what you’re going to do with it and how they’re going to benefit from it.”

He recommends that every member of an organization be informed about how they use data, so that even a shop assistant can explain the value exchange to a customer.

Want more information on Big Data?
Here is how Capgemini, Mashable, The New York Times,
The City of New York, and Neustar Use Big Data!

Watch the panel, “Creepy versus Cool,” held at the 2016 Sydney CDO Summit, presented by Accenture Digital and hosted at the UTS Business School on 01 March, 2016, below:

CDO Club registered members can watch the video and read the rest of “Customer Personalisation and Data: Are You Being Creepy?”

To register, visit here:

*The rest of this article is for CDO Club members only*

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