Advertising vs. Surprise and Delight

surpriseNPR has a great story today about the addiction that a lot of folks have to social media and how marketers intentionally and unintentionally use that dopamine-creating behavior to their advantage. It got me thinking about advertising and surprise and delight… (Disclaimer: My use of “advertising” is the¬†ubiquitous, always-on,¬†interruption machine that we all loathe. I know that there is such a thing as GREAT advertising, but as rare as it is, I’m not referencing it here.)

Advertising is predictable. Surprise and delights are unpredictable.

Advertising is a “bad” interruption. Surprise and delights are a welcomed interruption.

(Most) advertising doesn’t provoke a response. Surprise and delights always provoke a response.

Advertising is expected. Surprise and delights are remarkable.

Advertising is yawn-worthy. Surprise and delights are WOM (word of mouth)-worthy.

Advertising is common and overwhelming. Surprise and delights are rare.

Advertising is for awareness. Surprise and delights are for rewarding.

Advertising is intentional acts of interruption. Surprise and delights are random acts of kindness.

If you read/listened to the NPR story above, you’d know that Uber, a service that bills itself as the “on-demand private driver” provider, has non-scheduled days where they offer “surprise and delights.” These include an on-demand Texas BBQ day or an on-demand rose delivery day. These are outside their core offering, but since they are remarkable, not only do people want to check the app everyday, but they’ll TALK about it. And that talk carries a lot more weight than Uber talking about itself. And that, my friend,s is some of the best “advertising” around.


1 Comment

  • July 25, 2013

    Adam Pedowitz

    Awesome. This certainly shows the need for greater awareness of psychology in marketing and communications. But I feel the article has a warning when Volcow mentions that actions were taken while “There was nothing in it for the rat except the sensation of reward.” We as marketers/communicators need to make sure there’s something else in the “surprise and delight” experience to help individuals TALK about it.

Leave a Reply