When the celebrated Welsh poet Dylan Thomas came to the United States in 1953 he was met at the airport by the press.
They mobbed him and wanted to know if he’d written new poems.
He said yes he had some recent ones.
As he was swept out of the airport on a tide of photographers, blinding flash bulbs and badgering reporters he said he also had written some decent ones.
Then he turned to all assembled, stopped them in their tracks and gave them an effortless account of his writing:
‘I’ve written some recent ones,
some decent ones
and some recent decent ones’.
The press broke up laughing.
They were delighted with the answer. The impromptu performance surprised them.
Surprise value also serves marketers well when communicating with a target audience.
You could say it’s the most important thing about commercial messaging.
That and the fact that brands should always be presented anew.
Saying or showing something surprising, new and unexpected is what stops people and extends attention spans.
It makes it easier for a brand to compete.
Put another way, it helps you become a real problem for your competition.
Southwest Airlines has a handle on that.
Remember the line, ‘Ding. You are now free to move about the country’.
There’s bags of character in that. It’s both surprising and unexpected.
It’s the opposite of the ‘try-hard thing’ which gives it surprise value.
Of course, Southwest is still at it with funny flight attendant announcements and safety briefings that are near enough sidesplitting.
You’ve seen them. And no doubt you laughed.
Why bother to create work like this, why go the surprising route at all?
As Dylan Thomas would have told you, you have to give people something if you want them to remember you.
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