Did you know that the cultural choices you make are very much influenced by algorithms? Data indicates that 80% of what people decide to read, listen to, or watch are controlled by mathematic formulas. Sure, it’s comfortable to always receive suggestions based on your preferences but have you ever considered what this means? What’s the real price we have to pay?

Fnac, a French retailer selling cultural and electronic goods, wants to encourage consumers to break this cycle that only constrains their cultural freedom with a campaign that defies algorithms. Titled #UnrecommendedByAlgorithm, the project, created in collaboration with Publicis Conseil, doesn’t suggest content people actually like. Instead, it recommends cultural items that are less likely to pique consumers’ interests.

As a guardian of France’s cultural freedom since 1954, the company wants to help consumers unlock themselves from algorithms, be curious, and expand their cultural horizons. The “first anti-personalization campaign” is developed as an alternative to math formulas and represents Fnac’s response to this growing threat that keeps us in a comfort zone — a safe cultural bubble that is not worth it as it limits our knowledge.

The campaign manifests as digital banners onto which cultural products that are not normally on consumers’ preferences are promoted. To deliver these kinds of recommendations, real data profiles from the publisher ad servers are used so that Fnac can serve content that people have 2% chances to like. The banners pop up on users’ daily digital journeys on news and culture websites, who are then directed to a microsite to discover more about the experience.

Click to enlarge

Commenting on the initiative, Marco Venturelli, CEO/CCO Publicis Conseil, CCO Publicis Groupe France, said: “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.”

The experience takes place on social media, where under the #UnrecommendedByAlgorithm hashtag, a Twitter bot tweets cultural content that is almost completely different from what people like and share on the network. Complementing the initiative is a print campaign as well, denouncing the bias of algorithms in our cultural decisions. The idea behind the campaign is to highlight and remind us all that the unpredictable is the key we need to open new horizons.


Client: Fnac

Marketing Team: Julien Le Bescond, Hélène Brosselin, Mélanie Milhau, Christelle Belat


Agency: Publicis Conseil

CEO/CCO Publicis ConseilL – CCO Publicis Groupe France: Marco Venturelli

VP Publicis Group: Nicolas Zunz

VP Publicis Conseil: Alexandra Evan

Creative Directors: Bénédicte Pelletan, Aurélie Breton

CREATIVE Team – Digital: Julien Colas, Kamel Makhloufi

CREATIVE Team – Print: Thelma Cherpin, Robin Schneider

Strategic planning: Théo Tiret

Account Managers: Claire Viala, Florent Moignard, Ysora Begotti, Alice Arnaud

Head of Digital: Pascal Gaveriaux

Social Media Manager: Chloé Ballay


Media agency: HAVAS MEDIA

Account Managers: Romain Merielle, Juliette Dupuis, Shadé Tairou, Gregoire Auffret