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August 20, 2015
All Brands Want to ‘Surprise and Delight’
“Many brands are making this customer service tactic, commonly called ‘surprise and delight,’ far less random, and in some cases it's the driving force behind multimillion-dollar marketing campaigns,” reports Ad Age, citing MasterCard and Bud Light as leading examples.
So just what’s happening in the emerging world of surprise and delight? A quick scan of recent news headlines can provide an overview of today’s ubiquitous marketing mantra.

But before we begin our tour, let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment. Can you remember the last time you were surprised or delighted when you wandered into a shop? A visit to Harvey Nichols’ revamped store in Brum last week was definitely a surprise considering what had been there before.

And, while it’s today HOT tactic, surprise and delight has long been a popular consumer engagement strategy in everything from sports marketing to entertainment. Just string the unsuspecting consumer along with a head fake — then delight them at the end with a reward. Delta Air Lines pulls it off with amusing results in its Delta Dugout baseball promotion starring Matt Harvey of the New York Mets.

Let’s peek inside Team Xbox. It’s incredibly high because they feel “the foundation is in place, now let’s go surprise and delight people in some ways that aren’t just fixing some backward looking things.”

What’s better than free pizza? "We often like to surprise and delight customers and we're pleased that we were able to put a smile on @dpmay's face by giving him free pizza until the end of the year,” an O2 spokesperson told The Mirror.

Or fashion: “The exhibition rooms are windowless, since restrictions prevented Armani from altering the building, but it’s hard not to feel this is appropriate. Nevertheless, those who know only the late-career maestro whose unvarying eminence has cemented his history will find pieces to surprise and delight them, and a thoroughgoing gorgeousness to the best of the lot.”

‘S&D’ even extends to outdoor boards. The Yahoo billboard went up in 1999 and came down in 2011. The revival's come about because, in the words of chief marketing officer and head of media Kathy Savitt, the company wants to "surprise and delight Bay Area commuters with fun messages from the company and its employees.”

Or medical technology – NxStage is just getting started. "We expect to surprise and delight patients and customers with the launch of new game-changing technology starting next year," referring to the company's next-generation hemodialysis system.

And on to trade shows, where to surprise and delight attendees, there’s pop-up entertainment, such as the Mosaic Youth Choir and the Selected of God Choir from the Chrysler/Eminem 2011 Super Bowl commercial singing at Cobo and the Detroit Party Marching Band.

So there you have a quick tour of S&D news, from pizza to spirits to fashion and medicine to Detroit’s Meeting Planners Conference. Wherever consumers look, book, try-on, or travel, they will find marketers eager to surprise and delight. Aren’t we the lucky ones?

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Len Stein founded Visibility Public Relations to position the full spectrum of creative marketing services companies for industry thought-leadership. 

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