Advertising vs. surprise and delight

This is a guest post from Spike Jones — SVP, Managing Director SW Region at Edelman Digital and co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable Word of Mouth Movements. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

NPR had a great story 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 friends, is some of the best “advertising” around.

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About Spike Jones

Spike Jones is a results-proven communications professional, specializing in digital and offline word of mouth marketing. With more than 15 years of experience, the career path goes something like this: Baylor University; a decade at Brains on Fire; SVP of the Customer Experience team at Fleishman-Hillard; Group Director, Engagement at WCG; and now SVP, Managing Director SW Region at Edelman Digital. Spike is also a co-author of the book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements.

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