Since 1954, French cultural retailer Fnac has been a supporter of cultural freedom and open-mindedness. But these days, even if we have the feeling we never had so much freedom and cultural choice, in fact, everything we read, watch, discover, like or buy is decided by algorithms (80% of what people watch on Netflix is recommended by the algorithm, according to an internal source).
This bias is locking us up in a cultural bubble from which it is more and more difficult to escape.
In reaction to this growing threat, Publicis Conseil Paris came up with an “#UnrecommendedByAlgorithm campaign for Fnac that looks to offer an alternative algorithms are not the only ones to decide our cultural choices and humans keep their role as influencers.
Fnac developed digital banners to recommend the opposite of what mathematics formulas would have recommended: cultural items we are less likely to buy.
Based on real data profiles from publisher ad servers, Fnac flipped around the algorithm recommendation mechanism to select and serve content that people had only a 2% chance to like.
The campaign pushed the banners along people’s daily digital journey on news and culture websites. Per the Fnac initiative, a Twitter bot publishes tweets with cultural content at the opposite of what people like and share on the social network.
The idea is to remind us that, most of the time, the unexpected opens us new horizons. This case study film explains the underpinning of the campaign.
“We are living in the age of the algorithms. It’s never been so important to nourish the unexpected, search for serendipity and to escape from the recommendation bubble. It’s a cultural battle, and a human battle after all,” said Marco Venturelli, CEO/CCO of Publicis Conseil, and CCO at Publicis Groupe France.